There are numerous ways to retain customers, and it's important for a business that wants to grow to regularly incorporate several different techniques. You're not going to reach everyone in the same manner. If the methods that you have been using don't seem to be working, then it may be time to try something new.
Offer Options for Communications
There are many ways to stay in touch with your customers. Unless they are all identical in their demographics, it's best to offer various platforms to do so. Some customers don't like to get bombarded with daily emails. Others respond well to traditional mailers or coupons. There will always be those who simply want to talk to a live person on the phone without jumping through endless hoops with a robot operator. On the other hand, younger consumers often appreciate an efficient website where their questions can get answered quickly. To ensure a positive customer experience that brings repeat sales, poll your customers on how they prefer to be communicated with and then, if possible, make this happen.
Don't Make Them Wait
Respond quickly to customer feedback whether it be a question, complaint or compliment. This lets the customer know that you are paying attention. Don't let phones ring. If you are going to utilize a phone system, make sure it gets answered. If you have limited staff, offer the option to leave a call-back number. If you have a query box on your website, make sure to send an immediate response letting the customer know when he or she can expect a specific response. Many customers get frustrated when they feel like their question or comment goes into a black hole. Communications should be personalized as much as possible, so customers feel like they are dealing with real people at the other end.
Acknowledge Complaints Professionally
Nobody likes to get ranted and raved at over the telephone or email, but instead of getting annoyed, treat the incident as a learning experience. Sometimes you must apologize in a way that is out of proportion to the complaint, but if a customer really feels heard, he or she is less likely to take his or her business elsewhere and more likely to give you another chance. Reiterate what you plan to do to correct the problem and then create a follow-up action to make sure the solution was satisfactory.
You are going to lose an irritated customer if you don't make amends in a meaningful way. For example, if a customer was overcharged, add an additional discount to the order to make-up for your mistake. If an item arrives broken, send an immediate replacement plus a gift. Even if the customer ends up being in the wrong, be kind and acknowledge that mistakes happen. Sometimes you just have to say plainly that to earn their business, you're going to give them the discounted price or extra deal they thought they were getting (even if they misread the information). Your company will most likely be earning the goodwill and loyalty that will lead to future sales.
Create a Loyalty Program
It's difficult to say no to discounts and coupons, so creating a loyalty program is a great way to lure customers back in for a second or third purchase. Some savvy shoppers never spend a dime unless they feel like they are getting a good deal. For this type of customer, special sales or deep discounts are very enticing. Once on your website, there is a great opportunity to suggest add-on items. Chances are, once the customer has started shopping, they are likely to make the most of their shipping costs and throw an impulse purchase or two into their cart.
Experts say that 80% of a company's profits often come from just 20% of customers. If you have some extremely loyal customers in your ranks, treat them with deference. Every now and again, send a gift or offer them a service at no cost. Make it impossible for this category of customer to get lured away to another company.
Make Returns Easy
One reason some shoppers prefer brick-and-mortar stores to online shopping is the hassle that comes with returning items. Not only are you buying items sight unseen, but there is often a shipping fee for returns which makes some customers feel like they have wasted both time and money. One way to combat this potential roadblock to customer retention is to make returns super easy. Include simple instructions plus a shipping label with every order. If a customer feels like they can shop without the worry and troubles of a difficult return, he or she is more likely to choose to shop at your business again.
Increasing customer retention rates can increase your profits by huge margins, sometimes up to 125% with just a 5% increase in return customers. Because of this, it makes good business sense to focus at least some of your attention on keeping existing customers.