It is said in business that customer acquisition is an investment but profitability is built on customer retention. In other words, it typically costs you more to sell to a new customer than it does to a current one. As a result, your profits are higher when you sell to those who have already purchased from you.
Customer retention is essential to business growth.
So how do you earn customer loyalty and retain their business? Like any successful relationship, If you want customers to be loyal to you, you must be loyal to them. Your product must deliver on its promise as advertised—but that is just the beginning.
Here are some tips to help you keep your current customers coming back for more:
Provide Exceptional Customer Service
Often times, customer service can be a key differentiator for companies that sell similar products. In today’s digital age it is all too common for companies to hide behind “digital walls”. Often times this elusive nature can lead to lost sales not to mention decreasing customer confidence. When customers have questions or problems they want them addressed—by a real human with real answers, not just a scripted list of FAQs or automated phone system. Two ways to accomplish this are through posting customer service phone numbers on your site and considering Live Chat type systems.
Stay in Front of Your Customers
You can’t foster customer loyalty if your customers forget you exist. You must stay in contact with them on a regular basis preferably with information that ultimately benefits them in the end (remember it about the customer, not you.) Two ways of staying in front of them are through email and RSS feeds. The key here is to feed them information that helps them. Promotions on products, sales etc… all work and should be a part of your communication but don’t neglect the need to provide them with valuable content that helps better their position.
This could be showing them new ways to use your product, complimentary products that may work well with the one they already have etc…
Develop Customer Friendly Policies
If you want to keep customers happy you must offer flexible policies. Don’t make it hard for them to return an item, get support for current, broken, or discontinued products, etc… Be flexible and understanding of their needs and above all else, make it right for them. Put these policies in place and honor them. If you don’t, your customers will run to the competitors that do never to return again.
Consider Implementing a Rewards Program
Loyalty or rewards programs are a great way to foster long term relationships and repeat sales. Rewards can be managed in just about anyway you can dream up from earning discounts on future purchases to earning products at various levels. Just make sure your internal systems can handle the route you adopt.
Just about anybody can sell on the internet. Selling profitably and doing it for sustained durations is what separates real businesses from short run fly-by-night operations. If given the chance, I’d rather build a sustained business that lasts many years than build a business that is here today gone the next. Profitability is a key element in this equation.