Keeping your existing customers happy

Tim Rivett, head of small business at Royal Mail, has some top tips for keeping, as well as attracting, your customers


GET: the rules of attraction

Making that first connection can be tough. You’ve only got the briefest moment to grab their attention and win them over.

You’re competing with other eligible businesses in the same industry, so how do you make a good first impression?

First up is networking. Rather than viewing a networking event as just another free lunch, make sure you go armed with a plan and don’t waste your time talking briefly to every single person in the room.

Newsletters – don’t groan – are another great tool in attracting new clients, but make sure you’re actually telling them something new rather than a blatant sales pitch.

You may not like the sound of this one but try giving your goods/services away for free. Everyone likes something for nothing and free trials or samples are a great way to get people interested.

KEEP: staying together

Studies across a number of industries have revealed that the cost of keeping an existing customer is just 10% of the cost of acquiring a new one. Putting together a good retention strategy will also lead to increased customer profitability, as the longer the relationship the lower the account maintenance cost. Long-term customers are also more likely to introduce your business to others via a verbal referral.

Tried and tested methods of customer retention involve rewarding people for their loyalty. Incentives to return could include add-ons, vouchers, loyalty discounts or cards, special pricing and bonuses and gifts for ordering through a website.

Keeping customers happy should mean that actions speak louder than words. A proven rather than promised commitment will put you way ahead of the competition.

GROW: getting to know each other

You know their needs better than anyone and they know they can rely on you to give them what they want. But you mustn’t allow yourself to become complacent about the relationship.

Creating a happy, harmonious and ongoing relationship with customers is an achievement and an admirable accomplishment for any business.

So how do you make sure that you’re keeping everyone happy? Successfully managing your relationship with your customers involves digging a little deeper and finding out more about their purchasing habits, their opinions and their preferences. Record this data, as profiling individuals makes for more effective marketing and will lead to increased sales.

WIN BACK: making up is hard to do

Ready for some bad news? Well, it’s inevitable – your business will never be able to keep all of the people it deals with happy all of the time. Darker forces are at work and they will lure customers away from your business to your competitors.

On average, most companies will lose 10-40% of their customers. These are people who have walked away and may never return, and many companies don’t even bother to find out why. The problem is, when you lose customers, you have to go out and find new ones to replace them – and that’s costly and time-consuming.

Start off with the basics and make a list of all the customers who’ve dealt with you in the past but haven’t come back within the past six months. Identify the ones you think will be most likely to come back and purchase again.

Here’s the deal clincher: actually listen to what they have to say. If you’re asking why they haven’t purchased from you in a while, then the information they give you is vital to your customer relationship development strategies. If you present yourself as a solution creator then they will be happy to listen to what you have to say.

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