Here's a simple truth, it's cheaper to retain a customer than to acquire one. You should be focusing on building trust from the first moment you interact with a prospect, and from then on, never take your foot off the gas. Keep nurturing your prospects as you would in any healthy relationship.
If you are currently focusing all your marketing efforts on attracting, converting and closing your customers - you are failing on what might be the most important stage – retaining and delighting your most precious asset – your current customers. Just as you would not buy a plant and then move on to buy another only to stop watering the first plant, don't neglect your customers.
Ok enough with the analogies, here are 7 customer retention tips to get you on track:
1. Know your customer personas
Make sure you know who your customers are. Learn their challenges and needs.
Send out surveys, create loyalty events, and reach out to them just to ask if there is anything you can help them with.
2. Be innovative
Deliver to your clients in accordance with their needs. Stay ahead of the game and don't let them settle for a product or service that might be losing relevancy, or simply not helping them enough.
Always provide added value, educate your prospects and see how you can help them achieve their goals. This can be done by creating special content offers, personal emails, regular posting educational material in your company blog, conducting webinars, conferences and more. The rule of thumb is that your content should be aligned with your prospects' needs and challenges.
4. Don't be a heartless robot
Be personal, listen, ask. In each interaction with a customer, follow the pareto (80/20%) principle – listen 80% of the time, talk 20% of the time. Acknowledge your customer's needs and empathize with them.
Make sure to use social monitoring as a listening aid. Find out what their current problems and goals are.
Record measure and track all interactions with your customers.
Pay attention to non-verbal ques - expressions, voice, body language and general sub-text.
If a customer is telling you that "everything is great" don't pat yourself on the back and move on to the next customer. Find out what they are happy about and dig into what you might be able to improve in their experience.
5. Follow up
65% of customers surveyed by Hubspot have stopped buying from a company after one(!) customer service mistake.
Be sure to solve ALL of your prospects problems. Don't assume that if a customer has stopped complaining about an issue, that they happily understood it's irrelevant. Chances are they are fed up and have lost their trust in you. How sad.
Always follow up and always do it ASAP. NEVER EVER take longer than you promised. Saying "Hello Mr.Customer, I apologize but I still don't have an answer to your issue, I will be sure to check back and keep you posted within the next three days" is a perfectly legitimate follow up interaction (needless to say – do take the time to actually try and solve the issue, don't create an endless loop).
Pro tip: you can use marketing automation to create follow up drip campaigns .
6. Stop measuring success from your own perspective!
Focus on your customer's experience. When speaking with your customers don't boast about your companie's acheivments, talk about how your vision and metrics can benefit them. Your customers don't care about your one sided goals, and why should they? Focus on your mutual goals and remember that in a long term game, if your success doesn't correlate with your customers success, you need to reevaluate you point of view and metrics.
I think this image sums this point up perfectly:
7. Build your dream team
“Customer service shouldn’t just be a department; it should be the entire company.” -Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos
Be sure to hire people who are foremost people – train them for skill. See that they fit culturally in your organization, and that they are in line with your companies' overall agenda. When interviewing potential team members, prepare culture specific interview questions and set cultural expectations in advance.
Everyone on board should understand that they are representing their company in each interaction with prospects and clients.
Each interaction is part of the larger customer experience.
Your team members should be using your company product or service themselves.
Ways to empower your teams:
- Have a new hire training program in place as well as an on-going training program
- Be passionate. Set an example. Educate your team by doing not by lecturing.
- share stories of remarkable customer service with your team.
- Encourage your team to learn from one another and seek company-wide collaboration
- Develop clear work ethics and principles and make sure everyone is aware of them
- Let team members be themselves. Enable them to shine.
8. Complaints are opportunities
“All great victories, be they in politics, business, art, or seduction, involved resolving vexing problems with a potent cocktail of creativity, focus, and daring. When you have a goal, obstacles are actually teaching you how to get where you want to go—carving you a path. “The Things which hurt,” Benjamin Franklin wrote, “instruct.” ― Ryan Holiday, The Obstacle Is the Way: The Timeless Art of Turning Adversity to Advantage" (not affiliate link)
A customer reaching out to you with a complaint is an opportunity to make an unhappy customer an ambassador. Make sure the customer knows you care and do everything in your power to see to the problem. If the complaint is public (on social media for example), resist the urge to try and hide the complaint – this is your time to shine and show the rest of the people who have seen the complaint how your company deals with issues. There will always be complaints, it's how you deal with them that matters.
I love this example of how Domino's Pizza listened to their critics and turned it to their advantage.
9. Stay on your customers' mind using automated email drip campaigns
Now's might be the time to point out that there's no marketing cure for sucking. Make sure that your product lives up to your promise to your customer or else it doesn't justify its existence. Assuming that's a given - engagement is the name of the game. Neil Patel makes a strong point:
"However you choose to define it, engagement matters. Why? Because a customer who doesn’t use your product isn’t going to keep paying for your product. Think about it. If you pay $90/month for a home cable subscription, but nobody in your home uses it, you’re going to cancel. Likewise, if your customers are not engaged — not using the service for which they are paying — then they will cancel.”
10. Use automated email drip campaigns
A drip campaign is an automatic campaign utilized to send certain information at a certain order and time.
- Pay your customers special personal attention on occasions such as birthdays, anniversaries and holidays
- Send renewal incentives to customers nearing the end of their membership.
Integrate your product with your marketing automation tool and create product action triggered events. Some ideas could be:
- Product action follow up email asking for feedback or providing more information about the action conducted
- Sell other features
- re-engagement emails to inactive customers after a certain time of inactivity, offering incentives and answering FAQs
- Send coupons as loyalty rewards
- Say goodbye when a customer leaves, ask for feedback and provide incentives to reconsider
Retaining customers should be one of your companies' top missions and one that all team members should be active participants in. A deep understanding of your customers, clear work principles and a curious empathic state of mind are key principles to adopt and adapt.
A happy customer is a potential ambassador. No reason to miss out on that.