Sometimes when we think about strategies to increase revenue, we get so focused on getting more customers. We think that this is the only way to increase profits that we end up failing to address the need to retain those we already have.
While there is a certain allure that comes with capturing new customers, keeping repeat customers will continue to result in greater ROI — and costs 5-25 times less. But how do you create customer retention strategies that keep your customers engaged and happy?
We have detailed some of the most applicable customer retention strategies the biggest brands use to retain their customers.
How to effectively improve customer retention
Companies that ignore retention do so at their own risk. It all boils down to profits. In fact, increasing your customer retention rate by 5% can increase your bottom line by up to 95%, according to Harvard Business School. Below are ten customer retention strategies to keep your customers by your side and increase revenues on the side.
1. Build a solid customer journey
First, you need to map out a customer journey. Why is this important? Because doing so allows you to determine why they came to you in the first place and how you are uniquely positioned to help them achieve their goals. Only then can you gauge whether they are actually achieving their goals, which is essential because you want to be seen as the best solution to their particular type of problem.
The customer journey includes the various touchpoints a customer has with your company. It begins when they first interact — viewing an ad or reading a blog post, for example — and continues through their nurturing process down the funnel and into the post-purchase phase.
At first glance, it may not be clear how it contributes to customer retention. But mapping the customer journey allows you to visualize how customers interact with your brand. Then, you can use that information to optimize each touchpoint, improving the overall experience so customers will view your company positively.
2. Set realistic expectations
Lack of communication can cause a lot of problems. To avoid confusing or disappointing your customers, you need to clearly lay out the framework for your relationship.
Use your Service Level Agreement (SLA) to set expectations on day one. The only way to meet your customers' expectations is for them to reflect on what you actually do. You should also establish ground rules in other areas not covered by your SLA.
With SLAs in place, you present a customer-centric view that shows that you have the customer’s best interests in mind. Having a written agreement will also ease the customer's concerns, as they will have a precise idea of what your company will provide and how you will handle certain situations.
3. Read your customers’ patterns
If you want to retain your customers, you must first know them – who they are, how they are marketed, and how they respond. If all goes well, you continue to sell to them, and that's when a fruitful relationship really begins.
Once you know your customers, you can prevent them from leaving. First, you need to identify the critical variables of customer behavior, such as buying patterns, product usage, and the history of customer service inquiries. Then, you need to analyze these signals and take action to stop your customers before they quit.
You can use the customer data from your CRM software to understand your customers better. The system provides critical customer-related information such as where your customers come from, what they buy, how long their sales cycle is, and descriptive information such as the job title or industry leader.
Say you want to know how many of your customers haven't bought anything in the last six months, which might be a sign they're considering quitting your service and taking their money to your competition.
First, list all your customers, then record all sales made in the last six months using your CRM software. By comparing these lists, you get a list of customers who haven't bought from you for more than half a year.
You can now send follow-up emails to these customers and find out why they didn't buy and prevent them from leaving your business.
4. Listen to your customers
To listen to your customers, you must begin with asking them the right questions. Use surveys, polls, and other feedback mechanisms to determine how customers feel about their relationship with your company.
Remember not to base anything on assumptions. Maybe you know a customer's pain point the first time they buy your product or service. But that doesn't mean the current challenges are the same.
Customers have strong opinions, and you can leverage those opinions to optimize retention. Social media makes it easy for customers to express their thoughts. However, your job is to turn that feedback into valuable data.
5. Fix your mistakes right away
No matter how much you try to avoid them, mistakes happen sometimes. But how you handle those mistakes can make the difference and turn a customer on their way out the door into a customer for life.
A study found that, in the case of a company error, 96% of survey respondents would continue to buy from the company they regularly buy from if they apologized and rectified the situation. So what that means is, you need to develop a plan for the inevitable mistakes — and a plan for how to resolve them immediately, apologize honestly, and move forward to retain your loyal customers.
It is also important to note that speed matters. Customers who have complaints handled quickly go on to make future purchases and are willing to spend more.
6. Personalize your offers and interactions with customers
Relationships are built between people, and CRM software makes it easy for you to see your customers as people and not just numbers.
When you register a new customer in CRM, use the information provided, with their consent, so that you can personalize future communications. The more information you have, the easier it will be to adjust your follow-up strategy.
In addition, CRM software allows you to view a customer's purchase history, so you can determine what types of offers are most attractive to each individual and increase relevance, which will keep your brand in the minds of customers.
What you need right now is to identify a way to rekindle their interest and turn it into actual purchase. You can do this by offering special discounts or added value for your products.
7. Create loyalty programs to boost customer retention
While it is important to focus on customers at risk of churn, you shouldn't lose sight of your loyal customers in the process. Loyalty programs are a great place to start building customer engagement. They open the door for communication between you and your customers. And they help you collect valuable data.
Customer loyalty programs should reward customers for their ongoing commitment. The more they shop and interact with your business, the more they are rewarded. This makes customers happy because they get more out of the experience than just your product or service. And, since your top percentile of customers spends more than the rest of your customer base, you will want to make sure these users are more than satisfied.
Best examples of loyalty programs
Here are our three picks for the most innovative customer loyalty programs and what you can learn from each.
It was a new idea when Starbucks first launched Starbucks Rewards through the Starbucks app. Running programs through the app makes it super easy for customers—no punch cards to forget or lose, no login required. To earn loyalty points (or stars, in the case of Starbucks), customers must order or pay with the Starbucks app.
Centralizing customer transactions in this way creates a gold mine of data about customer preferences. Plus, by directing customers to its app, Starbucks can gather information about customer habits and more, empowering brands to offer more relevant amenities and communications to their customers.
Beauty Insider by Sephora
Sephora's Beauty Insider awards program is top-rated. It boasts over 25 million loyal members, and members account for 80% of Sephora's annual sales. Customers get rewards for every purchase based on the traditional points system. In addition, members can choose how to use their reward points.
Giving loyalty members the flexibility to choose allows Sephora to offer customers the offers and products they really want without compromising the perceived value of their products.
Amazon faces stiff competition from other retailers such as Walmart. Prime is a way of distinguishing itself and convincing customers to buy products through Amazon exclusively. And it works—Prime members spend on average four times more than other Amazon customers.
For a flat annual fee, Prime members get access to free, unlimited two-day shipping on millions of items, as well as other perks, such as Amazon's streaming service and Prime Day sales.
From Amazon, we can learn that your loyalty program can become a differentiator and competitive advantage, especially for retailers in similar industries where products and price points are very similar across competitors.
8. Educate your customers
Just because a customer has made a purchase from you doesn't mean you should stop trying to close the deal. Your customers have more options available to them than ever before, and if they find your competitors with similar offers and prices that seem more attractive, you could lose them.
Education is one of the most valuable things you can offer your customers (or even just your site visitors). It demonstrates a long-term investment in your customer base. Under this initiative, your business can create various customer self-service tools such as knowledge bases and community forums. Then, your customers can use these features to find solutions to service problems before contacting your support team.
9. Leverage social proof in your marketing
Sometimes, the greatest form of advertising is not your own. In fact, customers are more likely to trust the opinions of other consumers than branded content and ads. Over 97% of customers report that online reviews influence their purchasing decisions. This report shows that the fear of missing out (FOMO) is a powerful marketing and retention tactic.
Use testimonials and customer information to convince existing customers to stay (and attract new customers). Highlight loyal customers — and their stories — on your website or your social media networks and share their success to help you grow your own.
10. Engage your customers consistently
If you want your customers to be loyal, you need to take the time to build a relationship with them. Engaging customers consistently involves communicating with them regularly about matters that may be of interest to them, such as upcoming promotional events and new products or services, and checking with them to make sure they are happy with what your business has to offer.
CRM is an excellent tool for staying in touch with existing customers for several reasons. ScaleOcean CRM, for example, can be integrated with email systems like Gmail and Outlook to easily send emails to customers, which is more effective for retention than other communication methods.
Your existing customers give you an excellent opportunity to increase your profits because they are more likely to buy from you than new prospects. Fortunately, our CRM contains all the data you need to develop an effective retention plan. It gives you a clear picture of customer habits, patterns, and more. Using the data that CRM software provides not only retains customers but also keeps them happy and increases profits – all at no extra cost to acquire new customers.
Sign up and get a free personalized demo to see how you can use ScaleOcean CRM to retain customers.