(An excerpt from So, What’s the Bottom Line? page 190). A common misconception is that customer retention tactics are only for certain entities doing lots of repeat business, such as supermarkets and restaurants. Find out why customer service is vital for your business’s success.
As a rule, people (unfortunately) often forget things; that includes businesses in their database, and clients forgetting about a business that they have patronized in the past. Precisely, that is why customer retention is so important – every company must have a marketing method in place in order to remind past and current clients of the services previously provided for them…and that your company is available to offer that service for them in the future.
A common misconception is that customer retention tactics are only for certain entities doing lots of repeat business, such as supermarkets and restaurants. After all, why would a catering hall, for example, busy themselves with sending out a thoughtful thank you card and ongoing communication to a client who just had a wedding in their venue? The event is over, there seems to be no future opportunity from this client…no more business to be had.
Or is that so?x
Let’s examine the situation closely. The catering hall was presumably hired by the bride and groom and/or their parents. It’s fair to say that these people know others who are also of marriageable age. At some future point, a conversation is going to take place about a couple getting engaged. Naturally, there is a good chance that a discussion about potential venues for the wedding will then occur!
Now, if the caterer had sent a beautiful thank you card, and kept in touch with this past client long after the wedding, undoubtedly, the catering hall would be referred along with glowing accolades!
You see, despite the fact that the client in our story got married and no longer need the catering hall’s services, there is a very good chance that others they know will need one. And it’s precisely through customer retention techniques that will enable this catering establishment to be kept in the forefront of a past client’s mind.
According to nearly every business study ever done, all statistics show that it’s more expensive to acquire a new client than it is to retain an existing one. In most cases, your past clients are the ones most likely to be future purchasers; they’ve already shown they want your service or product and are willing to pay for it. And even in our case above, when a vendor would no longer be needed by a client, there is still great opportunity from that client as a source for valuable referrals.
Here are 6 proven tips and techniques that will help beef up your customer retention efforts, regardless of your profession or industry:
- CONTACT YOUR TOP CLIENTS REGULARLY!
Make a list of your top 25 clients. Personally call or mail something to them every few months. Even better, visit them!
- KEEP YOUR NAME IN FRONT OF ALL YOUR CLIENTS!
Mail a personal note at least twice a year. Send out a newsletter with updated information about your products or services quarterly. Send a monthly e-mail update.
Advertising regularly is a sure way to remain in your clients mind, as well as generate new leads.
- MAKE THEM REMEMBER YOU!
Your corporate name and logo dangling in front of clients on a daily basis – like on their key rings, pens, post-it notes, and the like – continuously remind them of your company.
- OFFER YOUR CURRENT CLIENTS SPECIAL DEALS!
This particular suggestion applies especially to the B to C retail world. Retailers mail catalogs, coupons and offers on a postcard or via e-mail to their client database as a great way of getting them back into their store.
- SURPRISE THEM!
Do something special and unexpected for some of your top clients. Send them a small gift. Add something extra to their order. As my good friend, Jonathan Gassman likes to put it, “Show ‘em some love!”
The bottom line? Communicate, communicate and communicate! Businesses often take their clients for granted – don’t be one of them! Ask your clients what they need and want. Listen to their ideas, comments and yes, even complaints. When clients see that you’re genuinely interested in them, they will most certainly reciprocate and be interested in patronizing your business as well. Make them want to do business with you again. And again. And again.
BOTTOM LINE ACTION STEP: Your past clients are most likely to be your future customers.