As marketing costs continue to rise, it becomes more practical and profitable to focus a significant portion of your sales efforts on customer retention. Here are five marketing steps you can take to improve your customer retention and keep your existing customers happy and willing to buy.
- Communicate to build trust and relationships: Use all the communications venues available to forge relationships with your customers. Send direct mail and e-mail communications on a regular basis. Establish a social media presence on platforms such as Facebook and Twitter and participate regularly. Put up a website and a blog and update both frequently with useful, interesting content. Find out where customers are talking about your company online and participate in those conversations.
- Track and respond: Use your customer database to track customer needs and offer products and services before the customer asks for or needs them. For example, a HVAC company could use industry averages to figure out when customers might need new furnace filters — or they could use data on how old the customers’ homes are to figure out when they might need a new furnace installed. The company could anticipate this need by sending reminder notices or discount coupons when the time is right.
- Maintain consistently excellent service: Let your early interactions set customer expectations. Don’t promise what you can’t deliver and over-deliver on what you promise. Consistently maintain this pattern of excellent products and service. Once customers know what to expect from you, even one failure could be enough to drive them away.
- Provide expert service: Establish and maintain your position as the expert your customers rely on to solve their problems. Offer valuable, informative content on your blog and website that will help customers with their issues. Respond promptly and professionally to questions and be willing to “go the extra mile” to help your customers.
- Ask for feedback: Go directly to your customers to find out what they want, what you’re doing right and what you can improve. Provide online and written customer surveys. Make sure your sales staff asks for comments and recommendations when appropriate. Pick up the phone and call your customers and talk to owners and managers directly.
What else can you do to increase customer retention and referrals, make your existing customers happy and encourage repeat business?