For most businesses, winning new work is a top priority. But at t the same time, it’s important not to neglect one of your firm’s most valuable assets: your list of existing customers.
Depending on your industry, most sources say that acquiring new customers is 4-10 times more costly than retaining existing ones. What’s more, a loyal customer tends to be a valuable one, with figures showing that repeat customers spend 67% more than new ones.
Increasing customer loyalty is all about reminding those customers why they came to you in the first place. Loyal customers are more likely to recommend you to others and can also be a source of hints and tips on how to improve your product or service. With all of this in mind, here are six ways to boost customer loyalty…
Safeguard your reputation
First impressions are the most important, and establishing yourself as a well-respected and trustworthy brand is vital to customer acquisition and retention. Brand reputation is everything, and it’s important not to skip over the basics and put yourself at risk.
Although many businesses are not legally required to have professional indemnity insurance, in general it is a client expectation and can have a drastic impact on the way your business is initially perceived. If a claim is made against you, any negative publicity can leave a lasting impression, and it’s important to have a policy in place to help you respond quickly to any allegations. Speak to a broker such as Bluefin Professions for expert support and advice on building a suitable solution for your business.
Always start with a ‘Thank You’
When a contract is signed or an initial purchase is made, this is hopefully just the beginning of what is going to be a long and profitable relationship. Email marketing software lets you get the relationship off to the right start with a personalised thank you message. If practical, a phone call is even better.
Keep it simple at this stage – and reject the temptation to push other products or services with your initial response (you can flag these up later). Let your customers know that you appreciate their business and provide a contact name for if they have any queries.
Do you target your promotional campaigns exclusively at new prospects? Any loyalty you’ve earned with existing customers can quickly disappear if it’s clear that all the best deals are going to newcomers.
Instead, consider rolling out your campaigns to existing customers as a first priority. Also, consider tailoring promotions that are available exclusively to those existing customers. This way, you’re demonstrating just how much you value them.
Special status for your top tier
Some customers are more valuable than others – which means they deserve special attention. Consider conferring special status on your top tier along with added benefits. If you’re selling to consumers, this might include free shipping, free gifts or a loyalty discount card. In the b2b niche, examples could include free training sessions for new staff or ‘gold status’ deals on bulk orders.
Ask for advice
Most firms are constantly on a search to gauge opinion and for the best ways to adapt their product or service offerings to continue to meet the needs of customers. Rather than sending out bland questionnaires, look for ways to find out what customers want and boost loyalty at the same time.
Let’s say you’ve got something in the development stage and you want to make sure it’s going to hit the right mark. Consider previewing it to your most valued customers. What do they like or dislike about it? How would they change it? Would they buy it? If there’s a choice of two possibilities, which one do they like the best? Don’t forget to thank customers for their feedback with a personalised message.
With all of this, you’re demonstrating very clearly just how much you value the opinion of these customers.
Second guess what’s around the corner…
Your aim is to pre-empt what customers are likely to require in the near future and offer something useful – without the customer having to ask for it.
Replenishment cycles are a good example; calculating when your customer is likely to require you again and contacting them shortly before that date. Customer relationship management (CRM) software is useful for keeping track of this. This isn’t necessarily about a hard sell; done in a personalised way, it’s about making life easier by setting out a tailored list of options right when the customer needs it.
More generally, an existing customer’s circumstances might change. What can you do to respond to this in a useful way? If you learn, for instance, that a business customer has landed a big new contract, you might want to offer an upscaled bundle of services, specially tailored to meet these needs.
Each of these examples involve moving away from just a basic transactional relationship with your customer and instead working out how you can add value. It’s about knowing what your customer is likely to need and giving them a good reason to stick with you.