Retaining customers in a highly competitive environment can be a struggle. Of course, you need to have a good product, but there are other important factors to consider to keep your customers. And keeping customers is important, as it can be quite expensive to acquire new customers, especially when compared to the costs for retaining them. We’ve outlined a few suggestions to keep customers over the long term while engaging in fierce competition.
1. Engage them
You need to interact with your customers often. Simply selling a great product is no longer sufficient. Unless you are the only option, customers usually have plenty of companies to choose from. If you never engage with your customers, they will gravitate towards more active companies that seem more interested in their customers. You can contact them for promos, ask for their feedback, or simply say thank you every once in a while.
2. Follow up as soon as possible
Part of retaining customers, if they have problems with your product, is to be prompt in your responses. There are some numbers floating around the internet, but it seems about 70% of customers leave due to poor customer service or even indifference. Do not lose customers because you don’t pay attention to them! In our always-on world, “as soon as possible” means within a few hours.
3. Maintain a social media presence
Number three has a twofold purpose. First, it is cheap marketing. In fact, some of it can be automated. We aren’t talking about paying for advertising. We mean just maintaining an account on the major platforms, and there are plenty of tools out there to help you.
Secondly, having a social media presence makes you easily accessible, covering both Tips 1 and 2.
4. Make repurchasing easier
If you make it difficult for your customers to buy your product more than once, you will lose them to competitors who offer more convenient methods of repurchasing. If you offer a buy-once product, you may still offer services surrounding that product.
One of the keys to retaining customers is to make sure your customers can easily buy from you again and do so with tact. Remind them they are about to run out of your product or their subscription is about to expire. Or simply ask, non-invasively, of course, every once in a while if they’d like to purchase more.
5. Pay close attention to reviews
Marketing is so important these days because there are so many choices. One or two poor reviews, and you may find it difficult to acquire new customers. But how does this relate to retaining customers? Reviewers are not forced into reviews (or at least they shouldn’t be!); that means reviewers suffer from self-selection bias.
Usually, strongly positive and negative experiences will elicit a response. If some customers are adamant enough to negatively review your product, it’s likely many other customers have the same problem but are not vocal about it. Make sure to follow up (Tip 2) and rectify the problems – otherwise you may start losing customers and won’t be able to find new ones.
6. Stand for Something
People have always cared about a company’s ethical standards. It’s always been important to avoid scandal and unethical behavior. However, contemporary customers, especially millennials, demand more than simply avoiding unethical behavior. They demand corporate social responsibility, and they will support companies that support the community.
Even small businesses can participate. An example: cosponsor a local reading program at your library by donating books. Current customers may like your product, but if you don’t care about the community, they may very well leave for a slightly lesser product from a more socially responsible company.
7. And innovate. And innovate
Your company needs to continually impress customers. There exists a plethora of impressive people and companies in this world. You need to wow them over and over, or they may lose interest. Once another company that engages their curiosity also offers your product, your customers will slowly drift away to a more exciting, cutting-edge competitor. You don’t even need to make new products – just update your current ones or run creative new social programs. The latter will get you Tips 6 and 7 in one shot.
Guest Post By: Nick Rojas
Nick Rojas is a self-taught, serial entrepreneur who’s enjoyed success working with and consulting for startups. Using his journalism training, Nick writes for publications such as Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, and Yahoo. He concentrates on teaching small and medium-sized enterprises how best to manage their social media marketing and define their branding objectives.