5 tips for retaining customers

How to ensure your clients keep coming back for more

It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

We have all heard the phrase ‘The Customer is King’ but how many of us pay it more than lip service?

The truth is, it is far more cost effective to target your resources towards holding onto a customer you already have than to spend a fortune trawling the country to attract a new one. After all, it costs seven times more to attract a new customer than to maintain an existing one.

Why do customers leave? A whopping 75% leave because of ‘perceived indifference’. That means that they stop doing business with you because they feel that you aren’t interested in them; that you don’t make them feel special anymore.

So while you may think you are treating your customers well, most of them probably think otherwise. They could be quickly tempted away by a competitor. Making them stay Perhaps you really are going out of your way to serve your customer, but they just don’t realise it. Well perception is reality, so if 75 percent are leaving because of ‘perceived’ indifference, here are five easy-to-implement ideas on how to change their reality:

  1. Capture their details and keep in touch with them. At least once a month write to them about a special offer, special product preview, clearance sale, new product line, open evening or whatever. This lets them know that you are thinking about them and finding new ways to serve them
  2. Ask them how you are doing. Conduct a customer satisfaction survey on an annual or regular basis depending on your customer base. You can even offer an incentive if they complete the form.
  3. Conduct regular customer forums. This allows you to tell your best customers more about what you are up to and to find out from your customers what they like about your service and products. It can also be a useful opportunity for customers to meet your staff (especially background staff) and of course other customers. If you’re feeling brave, let them talk about you while you are out of the room for an hour and then listen to their feedback on what they like and don’t like about your company.
  4. Develop more than one contact point. If a buyer leaves or your contact leaves, the relationship between your two organisations disappears overnight. But if you have more than one point of contact, the relationship is far stronger and can withstand the odd member of staff moving on. When a carefully planned company pairing system really works (as it does with Northern Foods and Marks & Spencers) your two organisation become so closely intertwined that no other company will get a look in.
  5. Be honest. Own up to mistakes, and don’t pretend to be something that you are not. You can’t build a long-term relationship that is based on mistrust. A customer would rather you held your hands up to making a mistake than trying to shift the blame where it doesn’t belong.

Most companies spend their hard-earned marketing and sales effort attempting to attract elusive new customers when they probably have most of the business they will ever need sitting on their database.

This article was written by Alastair Campbell, managing director of The Ideal Marketing Company, www.idealmarketingcompany.com


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