It’s not a secret that retaining customers is a good thing. It can cost up to 25x more to get a new customer than to keep an existing one. So why do you think more companies don’t do it?
I think it’s mostly habit. They’re stuck in a hamster wheel. Patterns and habits, once set, can be hard to change.
Here are five of my favorite techniques to keep those customers engaged and coming back. Read through it and I’ll have a quick question for you.
Find a way to engage them…
I love to cook, but I get bored. I need something to entertain me. So this weekend when I was prepping vegetables for a stew, I turned on Hell’s Kitchen.
Gordon Ramsey is one tough dude. He can, and regularly is rude and verbally abusive to the chef competitors on his show. I don’t think that particular style would ever be my cup of tea. But it is entertaining to watch the contestants try to impress him.
Some come from a background as a successful chef. Others are pure amateurs who specializing in fixing their kids’ food.
A recent contestant of the latter type offered up a lunch she fixed for her kids as her opening signature dish.
Ramsey took a taste and seemed to grimace. “Who do you make this for?” He growled.
The woman tried to hold her voice steady. “My kids’ lunch.”
Ramsey shrugged slightly. “In that case, not bad, I guess.”
And to the chef contestant. “What do you do?”
“I’m the head chef.
Ramsey takes a bite and spits it out almost gagging. “You serve this dog food?” he yells.
The stakes are high. The grand prize winner gets their own restaurant.
But the losers face daunting and physically demanding punishments.
It’s the path of their trials, the wins and the losses that engage watchers and keeps them coming back.
The program does such a great job at keeping viewers returning, they’ve completed 18 seasons with two more scheduled.
Retain customers with engagement
TV reality shows can give businesses a lot of tips to improve their client engagement and retention.
Dancing with the Stars.
And of course the myriad of cooking shows.
For myself, I come from the beauty and spa industry. If you don’t engage with your customers there and form a bond that keeps them coming back – you won’t last.
I owned a career school for a decade. The students that could connect and engage experienced return client and sales. And then there was the student who didn’t like anyone to touch her. She struggled terribly.
One thing I saw repeatedly…
The rule of like attracts like. It played out with every student.
Cheap students attracted cheap clients.
Open giving students attracted open sharing clients.
Negative students attracted exactly that type of client.
So your business personality is exactly the type of customer you will attract.
And your message must fit that customer. High end and budget don’t mix.
My favorite ways to retain customers
These techniques are not in a particular order. Adopt them as makes the most sense for your particular business. All of them have been proven to work…well.
New customer guidance
Have a system in place to educate and support that new customer. Show them the ropes. How to use your website, communication system and products to the greatest effect.
Think of it this way. When you go into a new setting, it’s nice to be shown where things are and how they work. It helps you relax and feel more comfortable in your surroundings.
You want to be able to recognize and know who is in charge. Who you go to with questions. In a spa, it might be where different rooms are located and how to identify the different teams you might interact with.
On your website, it’s how to use it and find what you’re looking for. This includes how to get help. Where to find support information. What people say about you. Testing, certification, and guarantee.
Not knowing where to find help is really rather like not knowing where the restrooms are located. Customers need useful, helpful, and problem prevention.
Here is a link on how to make sure your website is making that customer feel at home. https://www.jculpcreativecopy.com/2020/03/10/easy-useful-friendly-happier-customers/
Customer feedback keeps them with you
If we are open and listen to what customers say we can tweak and grow. You can’t solve a problem if you don’t know it exists.
Have some sort of client feedback system on your website. Make it clear, simple and be responsive. If you can’t get back to them quickly, be sure and include when they can hear back.
I never went back to the company who took over a month to respond to my email query.
Engagement on social media can be great. As you help one customer, others read it and are also learning.
Customer surveys are a very popular way to collect feedback. You can’t go to the dentist, shop or take your dog to the groomer without encountering these. Keep them short and quick!
My dog groomer sends followups that give me a choice of three “smiley faces”. Smiling, neutral, frowning. All I have to do it tap one. I can provide additional information but am not required to do so.
Be respectful of the client’s time. Remember they, like you, get bombarded with these requests.
Customer loyalty program
According to a Clarus Commerce report:
“Consumers belong to an average of 14.8 loyalty programs but are active in only 6.7 programs.”
So if we go with those figures, that means about 50% of the programs aren’t really engaging or offering something that keeps the person loyal.
Some are price shoppers. I’ve seen spas and salons get into deep financial problems offering hugely discounted coupons. Bargain hunters bought them for often $.50 on the dollar.
The service selling the coupons kept half. And the salon was inundated with price shoppers that weren’t open to upsells, cross-sells or even coming back…for $.25 on the dollar. Not even enough to pay staff wages.
Your loyalty program needs to be the kind that “your” type of customer appreciates. It needs to recognize and reward them. Most are tied into purchases. But customers can be rewarded in other ways.
Recognize them for social media shares – that’s free marketing.
Reward them for referrals.
Offer things that enhance and improve their life, or build an emotional bond with you.
Proactive communications help retain customers
Don’t wait for the customer to reach out to you. Be proactive in your customer service and communications.
Think of the last company that did some work for you. Did they followup with a call to see how things went?
Many companies aren’t very proactive because they don’t want bad news. Bad idea.
I think most of us have been getting swamped with requests for money, support, our vote.
Imagine my shock when someone from my congressman’s office called to see if we needed anything.
Yes, I am on their mailing list and do get emails from them, but this was totally different.
They were aware people were struggling with the coronavirus and trying to be proactive. Not a solicitation call. Voting was never mentioned.
I almost didn’t know what to say. It was such a different approach and far more engaging.
Guess who I’ll remember when voting time comes…
A monthly newsletter can be a great way to stay in touch with customers. Use it to share something new, something that worked. Something that could help them improve their life.
You don’t want to overwhelm them, that’s spammy. You want to make sure they know you are there when they need you.
Social responsibility mission retains millennial customers
In today’s world, you need to share how you are socially responsible. Millennials have made this their mantra. They prefer doing businesses with customers that reflect their values.
What is your mission to give back or go greener?
- Lego is investing over $150 million to become more planet-friendly
- Tom’s Shoe Company helps someone in need every time a person buys a pair of shoes.
- The owner of Nike has given millions and millions back to his alma mater to help athletics and other departments.
- The regional bank, Umpqua, covers staff time so each person can volunteer hours to the local community.
- Thrive Cosmetics is known for its robust giving program that benefits a variety of non-profits year around.
And right now we are seeing millions of people individually and in business looking for ways to help others in the fight against the coronavirus.
Look for what fits you and your customer profile. State it. Share it. Follow through.
Connect and engage. Get feedback from customers and tweak. Repeat. It’s that simple.
And that question for you?
What’s your favorite way to connect, engage and reward your customers to keep them loyal?
If you’re not retaining customers as much as you’d like… you may need an outsider’s view to help you fix it and improve those retention rates. Fixing it is far less expensive than ignoring it.
Ask about my “let’s help flatten the curve” get started offer through March 31, 2020.