“Make new friends, but keep the old. One is silver and the other gold.”
Did you just sing that in your head? We all learn that limerick at a young age in effort to invoke lasting friendships, but the message can be applied to your business as well.
There’s nothing wrong with acquiring new customers; in fact, your business probably depends on it. But, successful business owners know that their existing clients are the real source of profit. Studies show that increasing your customer retention rates will drastically increase your profits — and with the ever-rising customer acquisition costs, there is no time like the present to start taking a proactive approach to customer retention. The most important (and arguably, the easiest) way to retain your clients is to form a personal, lasting relationship. You don’t have to wine and dine them (although it doesn’t hurt), but you do have to show them you care. Here’s a few tips on how to create a lasting bond (no, not the 007 kind):
Get your clients to care about you.
One great way to connect with your clients is to send out a monthly newsletter — the more they get to know you on a personal level, the more they’ll want to stay with your company. Likewise, make sure your values align with those of your clients, and that those values are evident within your newsletter. Shared values are the strongest link between a business and its customers.
With your newsletter arriving in their mailbox each month, they’ll feel like you’re actively reaching out to them and keeping them in the loop, not to mention your name will be at the top of their list when the competitors come a’calling.
Care about your clients.
Show them you actually care about their business by acknowledging them by name or sending out a personalized, handwritten thank-you card every now and then; these small, but meaningful gestures will make a huge difference when your client starts wondering, “Should I stay or should I go now?” After all, it’s the thought that counts. Providing reciprocity out of nowhere will make a strong impression on your loyal clients. If you’ve lost a client and caught yourself serenading them with “baby come back, you can blame it all on me,” you’re on the right track. It’s easier to woo pre-existing clients back into your loving arms than it is to woo new clients. Let them know you care about them and you’ll do anything to get them back; then, actually do it.
Provide top-notch customer service.
Remember that time you went out to eat and had terrible service? Chances are you remember that waiter’s name, what they looked like, and what they were wearing. Now, do you remember all the other times you ate at that same restaurant and had perfectly good service? Probably not. People tend to remember negative experiences over good ones, even if the positive outweighs the negative. Be sure you’re always providing excellent (and personalized) service and going above and beyond for your clients (pro-tip: this is also an excellent way to create a one-on-one connection with your customers).
If they can tell that you care, they’ll care.
Gain their trust and you’ll gain their loyalty.
Become an expert in your field by becoming an expert in your customer’s eyes. Make sure they know that you are a trusted source of information when it comes to your business, service, or product. When you display genuine interest in your clients, and prove that you share their values, their trust in you will increase along with the likelihood of their loyalty. Break that trust and not even John Cusack with a boombox will win them back.
When it comes to your customers, if you follow to the sound advice of Rick Astley, “Never gonna give you up, never gonna let you down, never gonna run around and desert you,” they’ll never consider leaving.