According to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, it is 6-7 times more costly to attract a new customer than it is to retain an existing customer. Considering the fact that 80% of your company’s future revenue will come from 20% of your current customers (Gartner Group), customer retention is something you’ll want to be paying attention to when planning for 2016.
When it comes to planning out the year to come, we often focus on how we can drive new prospects into the marketing funnel. New leads, new customers, onboarding, etc. become the cornerstone of our strategy and sometimes, we forget to nurture our existing customers and build in strategies to retain them.
Building on my previous post, Four Business-Planning Strategies for 2016, here are three ways in which you can build customer retention into your 2016 strategy.
#1 – Anticipate Problems and Build In Solutions
While it’s nice to believe that nothing will go wrong, the reality is that anything could go wrong at any given time. Your goal, as a business owner, is to anticipate problems and build in solutions before you need them.
How many times have you been in a situation where you’ve bumped up against an issue and scrambled, in the moment, to fix it? Of course, you have to fix it, but doing so in the moment will prolong the time between problem and solution and in the process, cause you to lose some credibility with your customers. Planning ahead will improve these experiences for everyone.
Here’s a sobering statistic: 59% of 25-34 year-olds share poor customer experiences online. (New Voice Media) This means that if you aren’t anticipating future problems and creating solutions in advance, you may have that poor experience shared online with other potential customers.
Spend some time thinking about your past problems and how you could have circumvented those issues. Then, plan out all of the possible solutions for each issue and make sure your customer service gatekeepers are informed about what to do should any of the problems arise.
#2 – Plan for “Surprise and Delight” Customer Experiences
The truth is: how you make people feel matters. Maya Angelou said it best when she said, “Long after someone remembers what you said, they will remember how you made them feel.”
The business relationship you have with your clients is no different.
“Surprise and delight” customer experiences occur when a customer is taken by surprise at something you have done for them. Exceeding expectations, going above and beyond, making the experience feel client-focused, and paying attention are all ways in which you can surprise and delight your customers. Here are a few more ways that this can be achieved:
- Operate your business like your clients are at the wheel. What would YOU like to experience if you were engaging with a business like yours? How can you make your business feel like a completely client-focused experience?
- Learn more about who your client is as a person – although it’s easy to view a client as a transaction, you want to instead get to know them as a person. What do they like? What do they have going on in their world that may be worth reaching out to them about?
- Offer options for their experience – when it comes to the way in which you interact with your customers, one size does not fit all. Offer options to your customers that will customize their experience in a way that makes them feel heard and seen.
One example from my own business involves my upcoming book launch. Instead of focusing the efforts solely on book sales, I wanted to offer my audience options and provide them something of value. So, I offered my book outline as a free download to anyone who may find it useful. The results have been phenomenal!
When you look for the opportunities to go the extra distance for your existing clients and customers, you will create raving fans that will want to spread the word about your business and what you offer. And, this is hugely beneficial to your bottom line, because 74% of consumers identify word-of-mouth as a key influencer in their purchasing decision. (Ogilvy)
#3 – Nurture Your Clients on an On-Going Basis
Nurturing your existing clients is extremely important. While getting new customers in the door is important too, the cost of doing so is much higher and may not net you the same revenue over the same amount of time. By not focusing on your existing customers, you run the risk of them jumping ship to go elsewhere for a better customer experience.
Nurturing your clients will look different in every business but the bottom line is this: 65% of 1,000 consumers surveyed said they’ve cut ties with a brand over a single poor customer service experience. Your nurturing plan doesn’t necessarily need to be complex, it simply needs to ensure that your customers won’t have a poor experience.
Here are a few ways to make them feel loved:
- Create client-only experiences – offer up exclusive opportunities for them to connect with you that other people are not privy to. This will make them feel seen and heard and will give you an opportunity to connect with one of your most valuable assets.
- Talk about your clients on social media – give them some regular, public loving. This is one area where PDAs are totally okay.
- Communicate with them on a regular basis – although we often write for our newest audience members, be sure to also write with your existing client base in mind. They want to hear from you, too, and are much more likely to become a repeat customer.
Although these strategies may feel like a long-game, it’s worth noting that the average repeat customer spends 67% more in months 31-36 of his or her shopping relationship with a brand than they do in months 0-6 (Bain & Company). Build in solid customer retention strategies so that your business can sustain its revenue on a long-term basis.
Spend some time looking back at your past customer experiences. What negative feedback have you received? Use this to determine what needs to change and create a plan for it. What positive feedback have you heard? Use that to plan out what you need to do more of and what you can get even better at to improve customer retention.
I also want to hear from you: what do you do in your own business to retain, surprise and delight your clients and customers? Leave a comment below!