As the economy remains sluggish, businesses have to make every dollar count. Sales and customer satisfaction are as important as ever. Retaining current customers is vital to the health and growth of your company. Here are five essential ways that you can be sure to retain your customer base and encourage customer loyalty:
Maintain a Database
If you don’t keep track of who your customers are, how can you be sure that you are earning their repeat business? It is vital to keep a database of customer details, including (if possible) their names, contact information, and purchase history. This database will become an invaluable tool in recognizing who your most valuable customers are and how to get in contact with them.
Stay in Touch
No matter how happy your customers are with your business, they can be courted by more aggressive salesman and special offers. Make sure you maintain your relationships by staying in touch with your customers. You can use newsletters or e-mail lists to stay in touch and to let customers know about your new products or sales. For repeat customers and large accounts, the personal touch is best. Call and e-mail to check in to find out if your company can provide any services or to find out if past purchases are living up to expectations. For very high-end clients, a personal dinner is a nice touch. Remember: You don’t have to keep in touch just to try to sell them something. Customers appreciate the ongoing communication and businesses that are also willing to listen.
Customer complaints might seem like a death sentence that means you have lost their business forever. However, complaints are really an opportunity to win your customer’s loyalty by showing them that you are committed to customer service and to providing the best product. Complaints also show you how can improve your product or service so that you can win over new customers. Always welcome complaints and other feedback as a chance to grow.
Many businesses offer loyalty and rewards programs to entice customers into repeat business. These can be discounts or point accrual programs based on the amount purchased or the quantity of items purchased. Other value-added options for your customers include special promotions for repeat customers, or even a special gift. These do not have to be significant discounts or expensive gifts: Even small gestures make a big impression.
Do a Good Job
This is the easiest and most obvious customer-retention strategy there is: Offer the best product or service that you can. If you do this, your customers will want to return to do business with you. No amount of programming or special discounts will entice customers to buy an inferior product or to pay for bad service. Always offer the highest-quality product or service that you can, and your business will draw in customers.
Have you tried any of these customer-retention strategies? How did they work for you? What other strategies have you found to be especially helpful?
About the Author
Maria Rainier is a freelance writer and blog junkie. She is currently a resident blogger at First in Education where recently she’s written on online drafting programs. In her spare time, she enjoys yoga, playing piano, and working with origami.