You’ve just sold your largest order this year to a relatively new customer. You are excited in their interest in your company and its products. You are also anticipating future sales.
However, after time passes, it becomes evident that the customer has chosen to take their business elsewhere. Was it something you did? You thought that they seemed satisfied and content with the price, delivery times, and purchase. However, one of the most unpredictable factors in a business is a customer’s loyalty or return.
Although you cannot guarantee their return, there are several things that you can do to help improve customer retention.
1) Follow up
Although it only takes a few minutes, follow up is often overlooked by most employees. Call the customer and ensure that the product arrived on time. If so, follow up with their satisfaction on the effectiveness or quality of the product. If it did not arrive on time, offer an apology. Often times just hearing an apology is enough to satisfy a customer. If you feel it is not enough, offer the customer a coupon or discount on their next product. It is a small price to pay for their repeat business. If the product arrived and was incorrect, offer expedited shipping on the correct product and the apology/discount. By following up, you prevented the customer from calling in irate that they received the wrong product.
Also, the follow up can simply prove that you value them as a customer and appreciate their business. It only takes a few minutes and can greatly improve retention.
2) Offer unbeatable customer service
During the sales process, go above and beyond. Don’t simply take the order and thank the customer. Instead, offer input and discussion regarding the particular product. Discover the customer’s particular use and application for the product. You may be able to offer a better or more fitting product. If so, you have just prevented a return.
If the customer has questions (and they probably will), be patient and spend time answering each and every question. There is nothing worse than feeling rushed. At the end of the conversation, ask “Did I answer all of your questions?” This will allow the customer another chance to inquire about something.
3) Don’t make the customer wait
So you’ve created a remarkable customer service team. In fact, a majority of your customer testimonials mention the unbeatable customer service that they received. However, one major complaint that most consumers share is a lengthy waiting time. Nobody wants to spend 25 minutes of their day waiting for a customer service representative to handle their inquiry (especially if it is one simple question).
If your call centers are overwhelmed and you regularly find customers waiting on hold for more than 5 minutes, it is time to hire more employees. The cost to properly train a few new employees will be offset by the retention of your loyal customers.
4) Keep the customer active
Send out monthly newsletters or e-mails to your customer list. Offer discounts or specials. Perhaps they haven’t visited the store lately. Send them a postcard with a coupon. A customer is likely to be drawn back with the lure of a discount.
However, be sure to make the e-mail or flyer worthwhile to the customer. They are inundated on a daily basis with spam and junk mail. Make sure that your message is one worth reading. Often the coupon is crucial here.
The key here is to keep the customer active in your current inventory, specials, prices, hours, etc. If you have changed your store hours, be sure to inform your customers. Prevent them driving there only to be disappointed that you are closed.
5) Know your customers
Keep a database of your customers and their preferences. For example, if you are a hair dresser and you know the customer is allergic to scented hair spray, they will appreciate when you recall this.
In large businesses, it is often impossible to remember thousands of customers’ preferences. However, this database can offer a quick refresher before your interaction.
The value of loyal customers is often immeasurable. Your business depends on not only new and repeat customers, but also the loyal, regular ones. Follow these 5 key tips to help improve customer retention in your business.