I know—this is different from my usual topics. This post is the result of a very interesting panel discussion I attended recently about customer retention. Also, I have an MBA and work with businesses.
For any business, customer retention is one of the stepping stones to success. During my corporate career, one of the most difficult things in a highly competitive business environment was finding ways to keep our customers while growing our customer base. We were constantly working on strategies to maintain customer loyalty that could lead to referrals and a healthy but steadily increasing client volume. After all, the bottom line is an important aspect of any business.
Today, it is a far more competitive business world with many industries going global, thanks to technology. Push marketing is no longer an option. The focus has turned to customer experience as consumers are more than willing to voice their opinions online about a specific business. Most consumers are not going to look to another company if they have no reason to—which means delivering the best experience possible is important.
Customers are ready to pay a bit more when they know the quality of product or service they will receive. And of course, most people do not like change, so businesses must work extra hard to keep their customers from even thinking about going to a competitor.
If you run a business, take a look at the five effective ways my clients are using to strengthen and grow their customer base, while retaining their customers.
5 effective customer retention strategies
1. Using a quality CRM
As marketing efforts pay off, and the number of clients starts to grow, this needs to be carefully managed to continue healthy relationships with both new and old customers. The right customer relationship management platform or software is easily integrated with other tools a company uses. No matter how much a customer spends, she wants to be valued. Remembering and mentioning past conversations, purchases, and other details can allow a client to feel that personal touch that many companies miss out on.
2. Ensuring the sales team provides feedback on the quality of leads to marketing
Let’s say the marketing team is giving the sales team a huge number of leads. What if they are not converting into sales? What if the closing rates are low? This has to be communicated to the marketing team. Maybe the target demographic is not being reached by certain campaigns—so flexible campaigns might be necessary.
Allowing a great marketing company like Welcome Wagon can help ensure the right type of leads are coming in. Welcome Wagon reviews highlight the quality of marketing that they do in order to reach a person in a business’ target demographic. An increase in the number of leads closed along with creating more quality leads will result in rapid business expansion.
3. Rewarding Long-Term Clients
One thing I learned during my corporate days was never take existing customers for granted. Everyone likes to be appreciated. Our organization had some great policies in place for this. Some of the things we did were:
- Offer discounted rates for clients that had been with the company for a long time.
- Go the extra mile to send clients gifts for holidays.
- Remember the client’s point of contact’s birthday with a token gift.
- Acknowledge client anniversaries with the company.
- Have incentives in the form of attractive rates for long-term client contracts.
Long-term clients are what large corporations are built on. They not only fund the business but also keep the cash flow healthy while helping with projecting future revenue.
4. Organizing face to face meetings a few times a year… with dinner included
Client get-togethers help build and strengthen business relationships. And in today’s world filled with technology, the role of face-to-face meetings cannot be emphasized enough. This can be in the form of organizing lunch or dinner for a client with members of their staff a few times a year. This is a valuable customer retention strategy to build customer loyalty. These can include meetings where product updates, progress and industry happenings can be discussed, laying the ground for some profitable up-sells.
When these meetings are combined with sales meetings, resulting in closed deals in a friendly setting. In our organization, we made it a point to jump on a weekly or monthly call to touch base with all our clients. Staying in touch allows a client stay on track about how a project is going and makes them feel valued, in the process.
5. Planning or attending conferences to generate sales and improve ROI
Conferences are a great opportunity for businesses as they bring together the highest concentration of people from across borders. They work as an effective customer retention strategy. Businesses can connect with others in the industry and prospective clients, building relationships that can be leveraged later. Closing one deal can pay for the conference itself, especially when the business goes into the conference with a plan. This will include getting to know the list of attendees, creating a list of people to meet, as well as current clients to touch base with.
I remember how we used to write notes on the back of business cards during our conversations with prospective clients. This enabled us to refer to the conversation while following up to refresh memories simply because while people may not remember names and faces, they do remember a specific talking point. Conferences are also a great way to expand a client base to the national level from being local or regional.
The recipe for business success ties up with the goal of client retention while closing a healthy number of sales. Of course, it all comes down to putting the customer first and growing steadily without impacting the quality of the service or product. We have wonderful examples of companies that are now household names, simply because their customers found enough reason to stick with them for a lifetime. And that is something that will never change—whether a business is exclusively brick and mortar or a digital giant.
What do you think?
Do you agree that these customer retention strategies can be tweaked for a blog?