Every business seeks customer retention.
Customers are always looked upon as assets by any business and it’s critical for the survival of the business to retain its best customers.
A business that is able to develop and implement sustainable customer retention practices is likely to have a competitive edge over its rivals.
A customer retention strategy is a powerful way for businesses to increase their bottom-line profitability.
Good customer retention does not just end with the initial sale. Infact, it starts from there.
Don’t wait until you lose a customer to put your retention strategies into action.
Let’s first understand the meaning of customer retention.
A. What is customer retention?
For any experienced business, the concept of customer retention is a no-brainer.
We think it’s safe to assume that we’d all much rather make a couple of sales that grow and last a lifetime from a handful of clients than than hundreds (or thousands) of sales from new customers.
Customer retention is a marketing term for the method of making sure customers continue to stay loyal and also to buy from your particular brand instead of from your competitor.
It is a way of turning your existing customers into repeat customers and maximizing their lifetime value.
B. Why is customer retention important?
Customer retention is important because it helps you understand how customers actually perceive your brand.
If they remain your customers, then it means you are offering great customer service and providing value through your product to customers.
And if you don’t, then you know that there is some issue that needs to be addressed ASAP.
Focusing on customer retention is essential because of the following reasons:-
1. Low cost
The cost of acquiring a new customer is more than the cost of retaining an old customer. Therefore, companies should nurture existing customers more.
2. Room for improvement
Feedbacks from existing customers can help you a lot. They will tell you the issue areas in your product or service and if you listen to those issues and work upon them, it can help you improve your offering and customer satisfaction rates.
3. High profits
When an existing customer buys your product again, it is because of the value that your product has to offer, and not the price.
And since customers trust the brand and product so much, you can leverage that relationship by selling your other products through up-selling and cross-selling opportunities.
It is a lot easier to convince existing customers to buy your products than new customers.
4. Brand ambassadors
When a customer is happy and satisfied with the product and service, then customers tend to share their positive experiences with other people. Thus, making them brand ambassadors.
It is priceless because your product and brand are getting marketed without any cost.
C. 19 super effective customer retention strategies
1. Build trust through relationships
A business flourishes when customers trust the business.
So it is upon you to build trust among customers through deep relationships.
Once you build trust, you have customers that will remain loyal to your company for a long time.
To build trust, you need to use customer behavior data to build value for your product. That also makes it is easy for customers to accept your product.
If the trust is weak or not established, teh customer will not hestitate to churn away and move to your competitors. Worse, they may also spread a negative word of mouth too.
According to a survey conducted by Concerto Marketing Group, 83% of the customers recommend your brand to others, if they trust your brand.
2. Give special discounts to customers
Customers are most important for a business.
For this reason, you must always surprise them with a valuable offer or a special discount without their knowledge.
An offer or a discount comes as a pleasant surprise and it motivates the customers too.
Also, giving away discounts or offers does not cost a fortune and it shows that you care for your customers and the relationship goes beyond normal service or product that you offer.
When customers feel appreciated, they are bound to remain with your business for a long time.
They will share honest feedback with others which is priceless.
A special note from the owner or special discounts to selected customers can change people’s outlook towards your brand.
3. Leverage customer surveys
Customer surveys are a great way to engage with customers and understand how customers perceive your brand and product.
Surveys will help you identify the areas where customers are having issues.
A good survey must include multiple-choice questions and free answer texts so that customers can express their opinions without any restrictions.
When you solve the pain points or objections expressed by customers in the surveys, it makes the bond even stronger that already exists.
With these surveys, you can re-ignite the confidence of those customers that are losing interest in your product and brand.
4. Over-deliver on your promise
Never over-promise and deliver less. It will make clients go away.
Most businesses want to lure customers and for this, they over-promise. And, when they are not able to deliver, customers feel disappointed and dissatisfied.
If you want to thrive, you need to underpromise and over-deliver.
When you’re exceeding customer expectations, they feel delighted and happy with the brand.
For example, you know an issue can be solved in 15 mins. You must say to customers that it will take 20 mins to solve the issue.
So, when you solve the issue in 15 mins, you will come across as a brand that knows how to deliver on promises.
5. Prepare a robust onboarding program
When a new customer buys your product, it is the responsibility of the business to make the customer understand how the product works and make the customer satisfied from day one.
If you leave new customers on their own and start looking for new customers, then it is a mistake that you need to stop making.
Not only will it tamper your reputation, but also you will miss the opportunity to engage with the customers.
You must guide them on how they can benefit from your product and generate maximum return on their investment.
You must understand customers and tailor the onboarding program as per individual customer needs and make customers equipped with the knowledge of using the product to its full potential.
6. Listen to your customers
You hear a lot about having the right product or service for your customers- that is crucial.
But what people don’t always think about is how to keep it, especially when you have a good thing going with a client.
It helps us to understand their needs, concerns, motivations, and attitudes.
Listening to customer feedback and complaints can help you find out more about them.
Often, this will give you the inspiration to find new ways to delight your customers or make changes that turn a one-time buyer into a loyal advocate.
7. Resolve your customer problems effortlessly
Having effective customer support can be a key factor for customer retention.
People respond far better to positive experiences than negative ones, and when everything goes smoothly on the front-end, the results are all the greater.
Resolving customers’ problems proactively, swiftly and effortlessly creates a loyal audience of customers who love to advocate for you.
8. Know your customers
Let’s face it, customer loyalty can be easily broken.
No matter how hard you try, customers can switch providers in minutes if they believe they will get more value elsewhere.
It is your duty as a business owner to know what your existing customers want and to deliver on that need.
If you do this, you will keep them for the inevitable future.
9. Offer personalized service
When you are losing a customer, remember that the relationship is not over until they stop spending time with you.
They have already spent some time and resources on your product or service.
They just don’t want to continue to do business with you anymore for either of two reasons:
- You gave them a poor experience
- Your competitor offered them a better experience.
Giving them a personalized service may enable you to get back their business again.
10. Determine the right platform to interact with your customers
With the advent of several online interactive platforms, customer retention has become a challenge.
As such, marketers are on the lookout for viable ways of dealing with this.
Determining which platform to use to interact with their customer base is one such way out.
For example, some may like Twitter while others may prefer Facebook and its live video feature.
11. Implement a good relationship marketing strategy
Having a good relationship marketing strategy can establish a great business for your company.
This is considered the best way to retain customers and to keep them coming back for more.
Customer retention doesn’t just happen — it is something that you have to put time and effort into.
That is why it is important to make sure your business has a good relationship marketing strategy in place.
You may have solid relationships with your customers now, but if you don’t use this technique, you are going to lose them in no time.
12. Say “thank you” and mean it
One of the most important pieces of customer retention strategy is being respectful and genuine.
This does not mean you should say something that is disingenuous or insincere – it means saying “thank you” and doing it at the right time and in the right way.
There’s a difference between saying “thank you, I appreciate your business” and sincerely / authentically offering an apology for something that went wrong on your end.
13. It is not always about speed
If you think about it, the fact that customers are more appreciative of quality service than speediness is not exactly rocket science.
It is only logical that if customers believe that you’re willing to put in time and effort to help them out and get the job done right, they are more likely to appreciate it.
Just think about Costco or Nordstrom- both known for a really high level of service rather than speediness of getting through checkout lines.
14. Use language your customers will prefer
I’ll bet you don’t spend too much time thinking about language.
Sure you might be aware of its importance in certain situations, like a sales pitch, and you’re probably aware of common expressions such as “the customer is always right.”
However, I honestly think that most people tend to just focus on the work at hand and not how important it is to keep their customers happy.
According to experts, Use language your customers will prefer customers can convert up to seven times more than marketing to new customers.
15. Proactively address issues
In the same way that regular preventative maintenance keeps your car working smoothly, proactively addressing customer issues will keep your customer service department running like a well-oiled machine.
A good retention strategy can help you turn extremely unhappy customers into promoters by resolving their concerns quickly and efficiently.
16. Don’t try to fix what isn’t broken
Don’t try to fix what isn’t broken. It’s part magician’s secret to the illusion of his last feat and part modern art.
There’s more involved to this last step than what is immediately seen by the customer.
And it starts with identifying what isn’t working about your services, products or operations, then doing everything possible to correct those issues as soon as they are spotted.
17. Solve the root cause of the problem immediately
Once you know the cause, solve the problem as best as you can. If it can be fixed quickly, do so.
If the problem is a little more complex to resolve, make sure that you identify when it will be resolved and come up with a plan for keeping your customer happy until then.
The important thing to remember is to solve the root cause of the problem immediately upon becoming aware of it.
18. Provide loyal customers with a head start
There’s a concept in retail that the longer the customer stay with a brand, the higher the lifetime value of that customer is.
This is known as “Customer Lifetime Value,” which I’ll explain in more depth a little later.
For now, all you need to know is that keeping your customers loyal will mean they are worth more in the long run.
One of the best ways to retain customers is through repeat business.
However, providing your loyal customers with an incentive to return can help increase their likelihood of coming back.
19. Reward customers who recommend you
An easy win is to reward existing customers for making you successful. This is what MailJet did.
Each time one of their customers recommends their servies to another person, they give them 500 free credits that they can use to include email accounts in their project.
They also give them a non-expiring license key to install the app on 1 more computer.
When your customers are happy, this means less cost for support while giving them a reason to sing your praises.
D. How to calculate repeat customer rate?
To calculate the repeat customer rate, you’ll need to know how many repeat customers you have had during the time frame you want to calculate.
For example, if you want to find your repeat customer rate for a one-year period, then you’d need to know how many repeat customers you have had in the last 12 months.
Then, using the formula from above, just plug in those numbers and solve for X.
The customer retention rate is the percentage of previous customers who remained loyal to your business over a period of time.
To calculate it, pick a period of time you want to measure, and then identify the following:
- Number of customers at the start of a given time period (S)
- Number of customers at the end of that period (E)
- Number of new customers added over the duration of that period (N)
Then, you can calculate your customer retention rate (X) with the following formula:
Customer retention formula
((E – N) / S) * 100 = X
E. Customer retention metrics
Customer retention metrics are among the hottest and most critical elements to evaluate for any business – yet surprisingly many businesses still fail to measure it.
What is the single most important goal that you have for your business? Is it customer acquisition? Is it profit margin? Is it customer loyalty?
If you don’t know the answer to this question, then you need to figure out a way to define what success looks like to you.
You can do this from a few different aspects:
- Employee satisfaction,
- Customer satisfaction,
- Market share, etc.
Irrespective of what you chose, here are som emetrics that give you a clear of understanding of your customer retention abilities:-
1. Customer churn rate
The churn rate is a statistic that measures customer turnover in an organization.
It refers to the percentage of customers who leave a given company during a set time period.
It’s difficult to keep your customers engaged. A churn rate is just another way of saying how often the business loses clients.
Customer churn rate formula
Customers who churn away in a specific time duration/Total number of customers in that time duration
2. Purchase frequency
Purchase frequency (also known as “repeat purchase rate”) is the number of customers who have returned to your business and purchased an additional item during a set time period.
It’s one of the best metrics you can track for in-store analytics.
By identifying how often your returning customers are buying items, you can see which products are most popular and which ones need improving.
How to calculate purchase frequency
To calculate your store’s purchase frequency, begin by analyzing the number of orders placed in a given time period.
For example, if your business sells products online and you track 12 sales in a single month, you can assume that each order represents one unique customer.
Next, subtract the number of new customers from the total number of orders to determine the number of repeat customers.
If you have 10 sales and 4 new customers, there are 6 repeat clients (10 – 4 = 6).
When you write out this equation, it looks like this:
No. of Orders Placed / Unique Customers
3. Average Order Value (AOV)
AOV is the total average value of your orders.
It is one of the most important metrics that determine the performance of your business.
How to calculate Average Order Value
Average Order Value (AOV) is the average income from one order.
It can be calculated simply by dividing your annual sales revenue by your total number of orders.
This is an important metric to keep track of because it tells you the size of each individual customer’s orders.
Total Revenue Earned / # Orders Placed
To be able to convince customers to stay with your business for a long time, you need to understand their needs.
Be empathetic towards your customers and try to understand them by putting yourself in their shoes.
Quickly resolve any issues that customers are facing and stay in touch with them on a regularly basis. Also, ask them for their advice on product development.
All these activities will show that you care for your customers and you value what they have to say.
By implementing the above customer retention strategies, you will be able to make customers loyal to your company for a long time.