How do you keep your customers happy and loyal? What are the best customer retention strategies a business owner can implement without breaking the bank? Well, i advice you read on to find out.
Ask any successful entrepreneur that built a business from scratch the secret to his/her business success and you will be told that the secret to building a successful business is by building customers’ loyalty.
I recently wrote an article titled “30 Ways to Find or Attract 300 New Customers to your Small Business in 30 Days or Less” but success in business is not dependent on how many new customers you find; it totally depends on how many customers you retain.
“There is only one boss; the customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.” – Sam Walton
The subject “customer retention” is very vital to an entrepreneur who desires to build a business from scratch. Now how do you keep your customers happy and loyal? What customer retention strategy can be implemented to build brand loyalty? If any of the questions above catches your interest; then read on as I share with you 10 simple but powerful customer retention strategies that will keep your customers happy and loyal.
10 Crazy Customer Retention Strategies to Keep your Customers Loyal
1. Introduce a loyalty program
A loyalty program is one of the most powerful customer retention strategies and if implemented smartly, can keep your customers loyal to your business. Customers want to be recognized and appreciated for their loyalty; thus, selling potential customers on the need to become loyal customers while telling them that their loyalty will be specially appreciated. This invariably increases brand loyalty.
“The secret of successful retailing is to give your customers what they want. And really, if you think about it from the point of view of the customer, you want everything: a wide assortment of good quality merchandise; the lowest possible prices; guaranteed satisfaction with what you buy; friendly, knowledgeable service; convenient hours; free parking; a pleasant shopping experience.” – Sam Walton
You should also encourage repeated sales with an incentive or loyalty package. A road transport company I patronize offer exclusive services and a VIP lounge to loyal customers.
But this company is not selling us on the exclusive services and VIP treatment; they are selling us on prestige, they are selling us on the feeling of being special and that’s why I am a loyal customer to their company. I feel over the top when I am treated specially; I love exclusive service over generic services and that’s why I am stuck with this company.
2. Offer a 100% money back guarantee
I know this one is quite difficult. Offering a 100% money back guarantee is something most entrepreneurs and business owners dread but it’s a customer retention strategy that has worked for me over time.
Offering a 100% money back guarantee is not about the offer or guarantee; it’s all about integrity. You are selling the customer on your company’s integrity; you are selling them on your reputation and when you put your integrity on the line, customers take notice and pledge their loyalty in return.
“The most important thing in your business relationships is your reputation for honesty. If you can genuinely and sincerely fake honesty, you will be a success. Never doubt it.” – The Mafia Manager
Take for instance the business seminars I organize, I always offer a 100% money back guarantee to my participants and as at the time of writing this; nobody has asked for his or her money back. Why? Nobody has walked up to me and asked for a refund because I don’t give them a cause to. The money back guarantee I offer makes me go all out to make sure they are satisfied with the information I shared.
By offering a money back guarantee, I have put my integrity on the line and if I default on my promise; words will spread. Nothing spreads bad publicity than an angry, unsatisfied customer; and in a bid to avoid bad publicity, i strive to give the best of service.
3. Offer a reasonable discount
The third customer retention strategy is to offer your customers a reasonable discount. Offering them a discount is not where the strategy lies; the main strategy here is to make sure your customer understands the amount of sacrifice you are undertaking for his/her sake.
4. Remember important dates
Humans attach importance to dates; they feel connected to certain dates and if you are smart, you can leverage such important dates to increase your customer’s loyalty. Connecting with your customers on their important moments goes a long way to show that your business cares. Just a simple goodwill message can go a long way to make a customer pledge allegiance to your business.
A practical case study of how you can leverage dates as a customer retention strategy is an incident that occurred on my 21st birthday. I woke up as early as 4:30am to prepare for the day and suddenly my phone beeped. I checked it only to discover it was a text message from my bank wishing me a happy birthday.
I was really amazed and to be sincere with you; it skipped my mind that I had added a year on that said day. I was really happy with my bank for being the first to wish me a happy birthday. Mind you that it was just a simple automated text message but it made that day memorable for me. You can also leverage your customer’s important dates such as anniversary date, birthday, etc. Season greetings can also be of help in this case.
5. Stay in touch with your customers
Staying connected to customers is another powerful, yet overlooked customer retention strategy. One of the cheapest, yet effective ways of staying in touch with your customers is to keep them enlightened about industrial updates and trends. You can stay in touch cheaply by either maintaining a business blog or a text messaging system.
6. Give your customers free samples
Giving your customers free samples is an effective strategy to creating a lasting impression in the mind of your customers. In fact, business empires have been built on this single customer retention strategy; “free samples” and Debbi Field’s is one of such successful entrepreneurs that leveraged the power of free samples.
7. Send them gifts surprisingly
This one is another simple but effective customer retention strategy and I don’t need to discuss it in detail. How will you feel if you receive a gift without premonition from a company you patronize? Will you not feel valued, loved and appreciated? I leave you to answer these questions.
8. Offer free service delivery
Amazon bookstore was built on a single customer retention marketing strategy; and that was free service delivery, which in their case was free shipping. Offering a free service delivery can go a long way to strengthen your brand loyalty. No matter the type of business you are engaged in or the industry you operate in; there’s always an opportunity to offer free service delivery to customer.
Take for instance you sell electronics, you can create brand loyalty by offering free shipping or free installation to the customer.If you are into computer repairs; you can offer free system diagnosis and free software installations after service. Your ability to leverage this customer retention strategy depends on how creatively you can think. If you are creative in your approach; you can tweak this strategy to infinity.
9. Host a thank you party
Hosting a thank you party may look too expensive but its effect and impression in the heart of the customer is lasting. One thing I love about hosting thank you parties is that it creates a community around your product or service. Customers can get to meet each other, discuss your products and have a feeling of not being alone. The feeling of being part of a product loving community is what you should strive to sell to your customers when hosting a thank you party.
10. Deal with customer’s complaint urgently
This is the last and probably the most important of all customer retention strategies. Nothing ruins a company’s reputation more than negative word of mouth spread by an angry customer.
An angry customer can consciously or unconsciously become a crusader against your business; that’s why it’s often said that bad news spreads like wild fire. Customers hate being ignored so do your best to deal with customers complaint quickly and if need be; train and re-train your employees on customer service skills and customer relationship, it will help your business in the long run.
“Courteous treatment will make a customer a walking advertisement.” – James Cash Penny
As a final note, I want to emphasize the point that tactical execution or implementation any of these customer retention strategies with a touch of creativity, will increase customer’s patronage and strengthen your brand loyalty.