When you imagine your business succeeding, what comes to mind? Let me guess, success includes gaining more customers every year. Signing on new clients is important, for sure, but sustained success takes more. You also need to maintain the interest of your existing customer base.
Why? Just consider these stats:
- It costs 5 percent more to acquire a new customer than it does to keep a current one.
- Loyal customers are 5x as likely to repurchase, 5x as likely to forgive, 4x as likely to refer, and 7x as likely to try a new offering.
- A 5 percent increase in customer retention can increase a company’s profitability by 75 percent.
Now you’re convinced that customer retention is crucial, but you’re probably asking, “how do I create loyal customers?” Here are four techniques to help you create repeat customers.
1. Manage expectations
When you’re trying to win over a customer, it’s tempting to try to say whatever it takes to make a sale. Heck, it might even work sometimes. But if what a customer receives doesn’t live up to their expectations, they’ll be disappointed—and less likely to make a purchase in the future.
For long-term success, it’s important to manage customer expectations upfront. Be honest and realistic about what you have to offer. Underpromise and overdeliver and your customer will walk away feeling a whole lot happier about their purchase—and your business.
2. Offer education
You might be hesitant to teach customers how the sausage is made, so to speak, but educating your prospects is actually an excellent way to earn their trust. The more people understand about your products or services, the more confident their purchasing decisions, which ultimately means they’ll feel better about buying from you multiple times.
Being a guest speaker at a conference, for example, gives you several benefits at once. You can educate your audience and get a chance to do some face-to-face networking with potential clients. When giving a presentation, make sure you’re fully prepared. Consider handing out custom binders containing supplemental information to enhance your presentation. If you have them printed with your company’s logo and contact information, recipients will have a lasting reminder of your business.
3. Follow up
Sometimes, all you need to do to get a customer to make a repeat order is ask. This is especially useful if you work in an industry where reorders are a common occurrence. If you sell a disposable product (such as ink cartridges or food packaging) that needs to be reordered on a regular basis, you’ve definitely got a leg up; simply estimate the date when they’ll likely need a “refill.”
When following up with clients, it’s important to be as personable as possible. If you’re calling them on the phone, be sure to speak to address them by their first name in a conversational manner. If you’re contacting them by mail, consider sending a handwritten note or postcard thanking them for their past purchases.
4. Create a loyalty program
Loyalty programs allow you to use gamification to get customers excited to buy from you more than once. Try building a tiered system where customers can earn discounts, free products, or other rewards when they make multiple purchases. You could tie your loyalty program to an app or a website where users can track the number of points they’ve earned and see how many more they have to go until their next reward.
Loyalty rewards don’t have to be especially fancy. Smaller businesses might try something personal that connects on an emotional level, such as inviting their most loyal customers to an annual event.