On the first day of business school, you may have been taught that the “customer is king.” While a sound sentiment, this phrase doesn’t really mean much. Customers are obviously critical to the success of a business, but how do we make them “king?” This has been the question everyone has been trying to answer for decades. In the process, they have come up with a list (or cheat sheet) of customer retention techniques and strategies to keep customers satisfied and smiling.
In this article, we are going to review the best of these techniques. From content marketing to mobile app analytics, there is something out there to help everyone. If you are involved in business at all, customer retention is going to be important to you. After all, you want to keep the king happy, don’t you?
Where to start?
The hardest step in any journey is usually the first. Most people wanting to begin improving customer retention and churn rate often just don’t know where to start. The best and most important custom retention technique to work into everything you do is simply to have excellent customer service at all points. It’s simple, but it’s amazing how well your customers will treat you if you treat them well first.
Excellent Customer Service
From the beginning of their time with you, your customers should feel wanted. They should feel valued. By instilling the values of excellent customer service and professionalism in all aspects of your business, you will have started on the right track.
However, it’s not just about getting on the right track, but staying there and moving forward. Think of customer service as the car you take on your journey. If you do it well, it will be reliable and you won’t have to worry about flat tires. On the other hand, if you mishandle customer service, you will be on the side of the road before you leave town.
The only way to ensure that your company exudes excellent customer service is to make it a core value of your business. Do this, and the rest will be much, much easier.
The Cheat Sheet to Customer Retention Techniques
Now that you have laid your foundation, it’s time to start building. Along with customer service, there is a series of customer retention techniques that can work wonders for you. Some of them will be small, but meaningful. Others will be large projects that may not have immediate results, but will be the glue that holds the overall strategy together. Let’s talk about each of these.
Set expectations so you can exceed them.
One very simple customer retention technique is to set expectations at a level that you will have no problem exceeding. By doing this, your customers will be thrilled with the work you produce and excited to see what you can do next. Use this momentum to do something even better.
Treat your customers to fun “surprises.”
Once you have earned your customer’s trust, solidify that trust with fun “surprises” or gifts. These surprises are a good way to treat your customers to something special while again, exceeding their expectations.
If you have certain products or services you want them to use, package them as a surprise or treat and you will likely have much higher engagement and retention. The hardest hurdle to get over in the retention game is the first few days and weeks of a relationship, so use these to smooth out the road ahead.
Be punctual, prompt and professional.
Another small aspect of customer retention that will reap enormous benefits is constant professionalism. It is remarkable how uncommon punctuality and professionalism can be in the world of customer service. Get a leg up on your competition simply by being polite and professional to your customers.
Even if a customer, for whatever reason, does churn and you lose their business, continue to treat them well. When they try a new company and end up being treated poorly, they will remember how professional you were. Put in a little bit of effort now and trust us, your customers will thank you.
Celebrate their successes like your own.
When your customers win, everyone wins. When your customers lose, everyone loses. You should treat your customers’ success as if it were your own. Celebrate with them when things are going well and be ready with a plan when things go south.
Everyone enjoys celebrating good times together, especially when you reach a common goal. Celebrate with your customers and you will be surprised at their gratitude.
Educate and guide them.
One customer retention technique that not enough companies utilize is education. It is your job to make sure that your customers understand everything they need to know about you and your offering. Guide them through each step of the process and be ready to answer questions.
A popular way of educating customers is through content and content marketing. Content can be blogs, videos, testimonials, infographics, and so much more. Use content to tell your company’s story and guide your customers as you work through this together.
Use all tools at your disposal.
A fantastic thing about living in the digital age is just how many tools are at your disposal when it comes to custom retention techniques. There are now hundreds of ways to interact with your customers and keep them engaged.
However, not every tool is good for every project. Here are some of the best tools to use and when to use them.
- Customer analytics: In the world of Big Data, customer analytics should be a part of every marketing decision. Make the numbers work for you by using your customer’s analytics to guide you on where and when to interact with them.
- Email marketing: Use email marketing to reach customers that you haven’t heard from in a while. Send them a targeted offer or well-written email to spark their engagement. Email is one of the best ways to let them know you care and want the best for them.
- SMS and Push: Incorporate SMS messaging and push notifications into your strategy to meet your clients where they are: on mobile. Use these tools to get your clients the information they need on the go. However, be careful not to become a nuisance. These tools should be used primarily for support and urgent service.
- Social Media: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and a sea of other powerful engagement tools are just a click away for most of your customers. Take advantage of this and stay active on social media. Create a detailed calendar of your posts to make sure you are being seen consistently by your customers.
There are so many other tools that we could cover, but we only have so much space. The important thing to remember is to use each of these tools to meet your customers where they are, regardless if that is on the street, on their computer, or on their phone.
A key aspect of customer service is opening up yourself to criticism and complaints. Some companies are slow to accept complaints as a normal part of business, but the insights you will learn from one loud unhappy customer might tell you what’s been in the back of 10 other, silently angry customers who you would have never heard from.
Make it easy for customers to leave reviews and ask questions. The worst thing you can do is turn these customers away. Not only will you lose that client, but unhappy customers are more likely to tell their friends about their bad experience. Treat your customers well the first time and make your customers feel heard that feel you have done otherwise.
The king isn’t always right
The final customer retention technique to remember is that customers are not always right. Although this has been an age-old adage used in customer service for decades, the truth of the matter is that there is a limit to what you can do for your customers.
While it will sometimes seem easier to appease your customers, in the long run your business and your customers will benefit from you standing up for your company. Bad customers are often not worth the time that they demand. Throughout it all, stay kind, stay professional, stay stern.
Your business and other customers are more important than one bad Yelp review. Do what you need to in order to see your business succeed and remember that while you should treat the customer like a king, the king isn’t always right.
Co-Founder, Gleantap & Mastera