There is often an inordinate amount of attention paid to how modern businesses can attract customers. This is of course an essential part of the start-up and growth processes and will do much to define a company’s success. At the same time however, customer retention deserves significant focus as well. In fact, according to a survey posted by Small Biz Trends, a whopping 93% of professionals have found customer retention to be “just as important or more” than acquisition!
There are a few reasons for this line of thinking, but the simplest way to boil it down is that a loyal customer is more likely to give your business than a prospective one. Thus, it is important for businesses to put real effort into retaining customers and ultimately building up long-term relationships with them. Here, we will cover a few specific ways to do so.
Communicate & Engage
In today’s world, arguably the best way to turn one-time customers into return customers is to communicate and engage with them. Once upon a time, businesses simply did not have too many ways of doing this — save for massive companies that were early to email marketing schemes, or small local businesses with neighbourhood clienteles. What largely changed all of this though was the advent of modern social media.
Even a number of years ago, a piece by Forbes outlined the numerous ways in which social media can take client engagement to new heights. These include making it easier for companies to share stories; connecting directly to customers and making things about their experiences; and embracing and responding positively to feedback. Simply put, social media has given businesses the opportunity to converse with customers rather than just serve them. This kind of engagement is nothing new at this point, but it remains essential to retention efforts. A customer who feels included, spoken to, and listened to is more likely to return.
Market with Data
Building on the ideas above about engaging with customers, it is also important to apply data to the effort. This is something not a lot of business owners are readily equipped for, but it is also one reason that data professionals are among the most sought-after hires across industries today. A constant and widespread need for data analytics has even driven countless graduates and professionals to seek further education and qualifications online. It’s reached the point at which the online marketing degree program at Maryville University now claims there are more than 21,000 careers awaiting qualified data professionals in the U.S. alone.
What this means for you and your business is that there is a student or recent graduate out there eager for a job in data analytics who can help to transform your customer outreach. With the right data operation, you can collect and make sense of invaluable information — everything from demographics, to search and purchasing history, to feedback and social engagement. This information can help you to build up profiles for customers, which in turn allow you to be helpful and personal when engaging with them. Basically, data gives you the ability to give individual customers just what they want from the relationship.
Provide Great Customer Service
Anyone running a business today needs to be aware of the importance of seeing up a customer retention program. Generating a repeat customer is often at least as important as acquiring a new one, and sometimes even more so. Particularly considering COVID-19 and its fallout for businesses in fact, providing a good customer experience may even be the difference between success and failure. As is theorized by a professor from Ryerson University, a good experience may just help retailers “overcome the financial hit” of the corona virus. Part of that means focusing on successful retention, and incentivizing customers to come back.
There are a lot of different ways to do that, but ultimately the most effective is to simply provide great customer service! Beyond the data-driven efforts and digital outreach discussed above, this means keeping interactions friendly, going the extra mile to address concerns, and even showing a bit of company personality that a customer can relate to. Your business should be inviting, accessible, and friendly in ways that make customers enjoy their experiences.
The three strategies outlined above — engaging, using data, and maintaining strong direct service — all combine to help build reliable long-term relationships with customers. And one way to wrap all these strategies up into a single all-encompassing effort is to establish a loyalty program.
A loyalty program is an excellent way to ensure that existing customers remain customers over the long haul. The basic idea is something we are all familiar with. But as we explored in the post “What Makes A Loyalty Program Successful?” there is more nuance to this kind of effort than some might assume. It is an effort that can be designed in several different ways, but which in the end can help with engagement, application of data, and customer service all at once.
Article written by Jamie Anne Rose.