There’s something so satisfying about winning new clients or customers. New prospects mean new sales, and new sales mean more profit. Plus, it’s hugely rewarding when someone chooses your products or services rather than a competitor’s. When that happens, you’ve got to be doing something right!
That said, it’s also easy to spend so much time looking for new business that you neglect some very important people: your existing customers or clients. This can be an expensive mistake. While you’ve got a 5-20% of chance of selling to someone new, you’ve got a 60-70% chance of selling to a loyal customer. Some researchers have even found that a modest 5% rise in customer retention can lead to a 75% increase in profitability.
Little wonder that successful businesses make sure they don’t neglect their existing customer or clients. They know that quality, value and great service encourages them to stay loyal – and inspires them to buy from you again and again.
So how do you do it? We’ve put our heads together and come up with 5 of our top tips for securing repeat business.
Know your customers better
When someone buys from you for the first time, think of it as the first stage in a new relationship. They like you enough to buy from you, so the next stage is to find out more about them – and how you can help them further.
So, if you’ve provided someone with a service, pick up the phone and ask them whether they are happy with it – and how you can improve. It’s also a chance to tell them about what else you can do. If you’ve sold someone a product, find an efficient way of getting feedback from them. One great way is to use online review services such as Trustpilot: these will automatically send out an email asking for them to rate their transaction.
The more you can learn about your customers, the better you can meet their needs. If you use good Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, you can log every contact, sale and phone call with each person. This allows you to target your most relevant products and services at them: whether by email, phone, post or other channels.
Make it easy to get in touch
Not that long ago, if a client or customer wanted to get in touch with you, they had limited options. They could phone you, write you a letter or – depending on the type of business you have – visit you in person.
These days, there are many more ways to get in touch, so it’s important to be contactable via all the most popular channels. If someone sends you an email, make sure the account is monitored regularly and responses are fast. When a customer calls, make it easy for them to be connected to the right person or department. Social media and instant messaging are also crucial. Not only are businesses expected to be contactable via Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Facebook Messenger, but they need to respond quickly. Solve a problem fast and you can turn the issue into a positive experience for a customer. Fail to respond and you risk bad publicity escalating online.
It’s also worth thinking creatively about how clients and customers can contact you. For example, you could add a chat function to your website. Being able to respond on the spot can create new customers as well as help you keep existing ones.
In short, communication is at the heart of customer retention. The more ways people can communicate with you – and the better the experience is – the more often they’ll come back and buy from you.
Reward existing customers
Make a customer or client feel special and you’re taking an important step to retaining them.
There are lots of inventive ways of doing this, all of which get great results for businesses every day of the week. Discount vouchers and referral schemes are particularly useful if you sell products – whether it’s 10% off someone’s next bulk order of electrical fixings or a case of wine for any client who successfully refers you on.
If you provide services to a relatively small number of clients, then you can be really imaginative when finding ways to reward them. Maybe you could invite your most loyal clients to company events or useful seminars? Or perhaps you could give them free advice sessions, helping them to discover which of your services can benefit them.
Don’t forget special dates
Take a look in your calendar and you’ll see plenty of opportunities to reward your clients or customers. If it’s the anniversary of them becoming a client, give them a call to thank them and ask whether you can help. If it’s their birthday (use LinkedIn or Facebook to find out when high-value clients’ birthdays are), get in touch to wish them well and give them a special offer.
Then there are all the ‘events’ days to think about: Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Easter and Christmas right through to International Women’s Day and International Accounting Day (yes, it exists! It’s on 12th November). All of these give you great reasons to get in touch with your clients or customers and strengthen your relationship with them.
People love the personal touch
It’s an old saying, but it’s a true one: people like doing business with people. And the more your clients or customers like you as people, the more likely they are to keep buying from you.
So be thoughtful and don’t forget the personal touch. Sometimes, in an age where most communications are electronic, taking time to send someone a good, old-fashioned letter can make them feel hugely appreciated.
A small gift to say ‘thank you’ for a client’s business can also make them feel valued. Why not send them a themed calendar that reflects one of your passions, whether it’s motorsports, wildlife, classic cars, golf, striking landscapes or any other activity? People love these because, not only are they attractive and interesting, but they’re also useful. They’re also very economical – as you’ll buy them in bulk (25 calendars or more), the unit cost makes them highly cost-efficient.
Similarly, if your business has branded notepads or notebooks, these make very popular gifts. Again, they’re not only very handy, but every time your customer or client uses one they’ll see your company name and logo.
As you can see, our 5 top tips for securing repeat business all help you do the same things: learn more about your customers and clients, reward them for their loyalty and provide them with a personal service that they appreciate. If you keep doing that, you can’t go far wrong.