Customer Retention Strategies for Small BusinessesApr 01, 2019
Keeping a good friend is a lot easier than making a new one, right? The same goes for customers / clients. Maintaining your existing customer relationships is less expensive and has a better return on your investment. While it's important to put energy into your "top of funnel" efforts to find new people, I would argue that it's MORE important to work on customer retention strategies.
Creating a Customer Retention Strategy
The biggest challenge for many companies looking at their customer retention is where to begin. Here are 5 practical customer retention strategies you can use to keep your existing customers happy over the long-term and increase your profits.
1. Customize Your Content Strategy
Speak / Write to your existing customers like you know them - because you do! No one wants to feel like another number, so create customized messaging for your customers based on their history with you.
If you know about their purchase history, then send an email that asks about those specific products / services when you ask for feedback. Or offer additional value-add content based on those purchases (such as a how-to video).
2. Up-sell and Cross-sell Appropriately
If someone bought a food processor from your store, then what is something that pairs well with that product? Perhaps it is simply more blades (cross-sell). If it's been a few years since that purchase, you may want to send an "upgrade" discount to get the newest version.
What you probably don't want to do, is try and sell a computer monitor to that same person. It's a completely unrelated purchase. You have no reason to think the customer needs that item, so that kind of cross-sell would be a waste of your time (unless you have information that says the person does want a computer monitor).
3. Create Community
While this does not work for every business, it can work for many of us. You have the opportunity to create a community of your biggest fans. If your customers are all using the same software, then perhaps you want to create a private Slack channel or Facebook group where they can exchange ideas and help each other troubleshoot.
Even physical products and CPG companies have successfully created communities around themes such as healthy recipes or ways they have used your food processor.
4. Amazing Customer Service
This one is the bare minimum requirement for customer retention. Have an easy way for customers to get support. If you are a service provider (solopreneur), then you may want to schedule weekly office hours for people to schedule help sessions. If you create online courses, then have a simple form or help line for people to contact you.
Many customer service interactions can naturally lead to an additional sale. By simply being available, courteous, and helpful people will appreciate your efforts and may want to purchase something additional that you're selling (if it helps them).
5. Reputation is a Reflection of Your Brand
How customers are treated at every point in their customer journey is a direct reflection of your brand and its integrity. Will you deliver upon the promise of (fill in the blank) great service or product?
If you are a service provider who promotes the importance of accountability and integrity, then your actions must be a reflection of those values. Paying bills on time and accepting responsibility for how you behave, for example, are among the important ways for you to show up and represent your brand. Or if your brand works in security, then the user experiences with your website and any software should reflect that value as well - with secure forms and promises to not share information.
Treating Customers Like Friends for Retention
To a certain extent, customers should be treated like friends. You are thoughtful, kind and supportive to your friends. You do not make promises that you cannot keep. And you would never speak to them in a generic tone as if there is no context to the relationship.
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