A customer’s journey doesn’t stop when they finally purchase your product. For a brand that wants to scale, that’s an absurd way of seeing the overall buying process. However, a customer’s journey starts from brand awareness, engagement, purchase and finally ends at loyalty. And this is where customer retention comes into play.
Sadly, only 18 percent of brands focus on customer retention, while 44 percent focus on customer acquisition. While this may be good for company sales, this strategy might not be suitable for long-term goals.
Once you acquire clients, do everything in your power to keep them. Why? Learn three takeaways from this article:
- What is Customer Retention
- Why is Customer Retention Important?
- 8 Customer Retention Strategies that Work (with examples)
What is Customer Retention?
Customer retention is the process of making existing customers loyal to a brand. And when we say loyal, it can mean existing customers show customer loyalty by doing these:
- Continued support of the brand
- Continuously purchasing the brand’s products and services
- Talking about the brand with their friends and family
- Not switching to another competitor
- Patronizing the brand’s activities, events, launches, etc.
The primary goal of customer retention is to avoid existing customers heading over to the competitors. And there could be many reasons why brand switching happens:
- Your product price doesn’t equate to its value. It could be that you’re not innovating more often to offer more value to your clients.
- You have poor customer service. Study says 69 percent of customers consider excellent customer service as a gauge for their loyalty.
- Your customers are experiencing brand fatigue. Overexposure to a brand can cause brand fatigue, especially if the experience is stagnant. Meaning there is no excitement when interacting with a brand anymore.
- You don’t understand your audience well enough. Customer experience is vital in every customer journey. Unfortunately, 54 percent of consumers say customer experience in commerce needs improvement. If you don’t know your customers well enough, then you’ll never be able to cater to their needs.
With these in mind, brands must prioritize customer retention after acquisition. And mind you, both are different.
Customer Retention vs. Customer Acquisition
Take note that customer retention varies from customer acquisition. Instead, customer retention pertains to exerting extra effort to keep customers who have already purchased your product or subscribed to your service.
On the other hand, customer acquisition, otherwise known as “lead generation,” refers to acquiring new customers or leads through various marketing methods.
Why is Customer Retention Important?
Your existing customers are substantial. Why? Because you’ve already proven to these people how good your offer is. That said, it’s easier for brands to upsell or cross-sell.
The book Marketing Metrics states that brands will only have a five to 20 percent chance of successfully selling to new customers. Whereas brands have a higher 60 to 70 percent chance of selling to their existing customers.
So if you’re still in a pickle about why customer loyalty should be number one on every brand’s list, here are a few reasons:
- Retaining customers is cheaper. Did you know that acquiring new clients will cost brands five to 25 times more than nurturing existing ones?
- More word-of-mouth marketing. People talk about brands they love. In fact, 90 percent of millennials share their favorite brands online.
- Contribute to more profits. Through customer engagement, brands can make existing clients buy more. Research states they buy 90 percent more frequently.
- Loyal customers provide positive feedback. Social proof is an excellent addition to your marketing efforts. And when you make customers happy, they’d be willing to go above and beyond to support you by putting in a good review.
- Embrace your advertisements. Loyal customers will embrace your marketing efforts more than new customers. This is because they know the value people are getting from your offers. In turn, they are likely to share and advocate your product.
- Existing customers are more forgiving. Brand faux pas is sometimes uncontrollable. And that’s okay. The only thing that matters is how brands act on a misdoing. Also, your loyal customers will be the ones who always have your back.
8 Customer Retention Strategies that Work
Customer retention programs are necessary if you want to prioritize customer loyalty. However, design a program that gives customers more benefits than you getting the benefits from them. After all, your best assets, aside from your employees, are your regular customers. They are what keeps the business going. So if you’re wondering how to devise a customer retention plan, here are eight foolproof ways:
1. Create a customer journey
A customer journey is a blueprint of the customer’s journey from knowing about your brand to purchasing your product. Every step in between must provide an excellent and flawless experience for the customer to make them patronize your brand. This 5E Scale Engine playbook covers how brands must handle customers from the beginning until the end of their journey.
Entrepreneurs think that providing customers quality products will cut the mustard. However, humans are emotionally inclined to brands that satisfy their overall physical, mental, and emotional needs. For example, if brands have superb customer service, customers will keep coming back for that.
On top of that, if brands offer them user-friendly apps and websites to make ordering a breeze, then customers will make sure to visit your online store instead of your competitors. The most important thing is that you know your audience well enough to craft a customer journey that suits their purchasing behavior.
Here is an example of a customer journey:
To map out your customer journey, here are seven steps you need to follow:
- Set goals and objectives. Ask yourself why you’re creating this customer journey in the first place. Is it based on a particular experience? Who is it for? Try to create a buyer persona so you’ll get into the minds of how customers interact with your brand.
- Conduct persona profiling and know their goals. You must profile your personas. This way, you’ll also know their goals when interacting with your brand or similar brands. The best way to do this is to conduct surveys. Ask questions like how they knew about your brand, what goals they want to achieve, what attracted them to your website, etc.
- Drill down on one or two personas. Once you know the various personas that engage with your brand, focus on one or two of them. This is so you can map an accurate customer journey.
- Jot down all touchpoints. Touchpoints refer to all pages or channels in your website that your customers engage with. This is so you’ll determine what makes them stay or leave your website.
- Identify all resources you have and need. The next step is to leverage the resources you already have that impact the customer buying process. And know what resources you need to procure to improve the customer buying process.
- Analyze the results. After mapping the customer journey, analyze the results to know what changes need to be made.
- Implement necessary changes. After analyzing what makes customers leave your website without ordering, make the necessary changes. It could be as simple as creating more explicit calls to action or changing the website visuals. Whatever the changes are, they’re necessary for improving your client journey.
2. Create a communication calendar
A communication calendar is a “cheat sheet” of what your public messages are. Plus, it also outlines where and when you’ll be delivering these messages. Your communication calendar must be part of your marketing approach because it tells your team what you should be talking about and where you need to talk about it at a particular time when your audience is watching.
Here’s an example of a communication calendar:
Moreover, a communication calendar is also a step towards rekindling existing customers who no longer interact with your brand. Your customers could be lurking in various channels without engaging with your brand. Don’t lose them completely by ignoring communication with them.
Reach out to them to re-establish client relationships. This is a perfect way to remind them of new products launched or upcoming events they might be interested in.
3. Create a customer loyalty program
A customer loyalty program is vital for customer retention. An Invesp article states that 69 percent of consumers choose retailers that offer customer loyalty or rewards. Moreover, the same survey claims that 57.4 percent of consumers join customer loyalty programs to save money.
Don’t neglect your top-paying regular customers. You must keep these customers happy by offering the most enticing customer loyalty programs. Brands should always thank and reward customers for their continued patronage and commitment. This amplifies the customers’ affinity towards your brand.
Also, you have to admit that regular customers would want to save money by redeeming rewards and discounts. These programs can range from referral systems, loyalty programs to special offers and discount codes. Check out these seven innovative customer loyalty programs from popular brands.
4. Regularly ask customers for feedback
Getting customer feedback also plays a massive role in customer retention. Gathering customer feedback will help businesses improve their products and service. Moreover, getting feedback from your customers also opens up opportunities for innovation. Who knows, maybe you’ll get feedback that can help you improve your business.
Furthermore, when you ask customers what they think of your product, it makes them feel valued. Plus, this is also one way to gauge customer satisfaction.
Wondering how you can collect customer feedback? Here are a couple of ways:
- Offer live chat support on your website
- Include feedback forms
- Call your customers regularly
- Communicate with them via social media and monitor messages
- Ask for feedback when chatting with customers
- Send email customer surveys
- Create online polls
- In-app feedback
- Include a feedback form after cart abandonment
- Offer customers a gift in exchange for feedback
- Check Facebook post reactions
- Create an online support community
5. Offer omnichannel experience
Omnichannel experience means brands nurture leads and engage users via various platforms and channels. It means brands promote, sell, and serve customers from multiple channels that are interconnected.
Omnichannel experience shouldn’t be mistaken for the multi-channel experience. Both have nuances. The latter means brands could be using multiple channels that aren’t necessarily interconnected with each other. On the one hand, the former means brands are using multiple channels that are interconnected for a more seamless experience.
Providing an omnichannel experience is undeniably good for customer retention and decreases churn rates. Moreover, omnichannel marketing and support can contribute to a more extensive reach, increased profits, and high customer satisfaction.
An example of a brand that offers an omnichannel experience is Disney. Customers can book a ticket from Disney’s website. They can then use the My Disney Experience tool to map out their entire trip. Once they’re inside Disney’s park, customers can use its mobile app to find their favorite attractions. Finally, Disney also has the Magic Band program, wherein customers can use it as a food ordering tool, hotel room key, and photo storage device.
6. Create a customer advisory board
Some businesses create a customer advisory board to gather insights from their valuable customers to improve their products and services. A customer advisory board is a marketing program that brings together customers and company executives. Customers typically offer guidance to company representatives on improving products or offer solutions to face industry challenges.
Customer advisory boards work by inviting customers regularly to provide feedback about the company. Some benefits of creating a customer advisory board are:
- Helps guide the company’s marketing and overall strategies
- Helps provide insights into how customers are interacting with your products and services
- Helps increase customer loyalty as these customers will be spending more time with your company for these regular meetings
7. Simplify the customer service process
Providing excellent customer service is one way to retain customers. A Microsoft study claims that 90 percent of customers consider customer service when deciding to do business with a brand. And this is a valid consideration.
Regardless of how incredible your products are, you’re not contributing to the entire customer experience if you have poor customer service.
First, you must understand that your customers might be busy people. The last thing they want is to wait a few minutes for someone on your end to connect them to the right customer service representative because they don’t know anything about the issue.
To avoid this, gathering the right information from your customers is the first step. This way, you’ll know who the best representatives are that can help them. One way is to provide multiple web forms. Forms should have various categories that customers can choose to drill down on the problem at hand. In addition, if customers get prompts about their issues, it makes filling out forms easier.
Then you can provide conditional fields. Once customers choose a specific category, conditional fields show custom subcategories relevant to the selected main category.
Here’s an example of a conditional logic form that shows how easy it is to gather information from the client, depending on their answers.
Once you have all the necessary information about the customer’s issue, you want to forward this to the best representative. It’s frustrating for customers to wait on the phone because support couldn’t find someone who can handle the issue. The best way to circumvent this issue is to automate the process. Use a tool or software where customers can see their tickets and communicate with the representative.
8. Provide personalized interactions
Personalization is another key to customer retention. Most customers would prefer brands to see their value by taking note of their customer journey. And with today’s technologically advanced systems, brands can quickly do this by using automation.
Personalized interactions can nurture client relationships. A Forbes article states that 98 percent of marketing experts believe that personalized interaction advances customer relationships.
This example from Sephora shows a personalized email. It displays the products that were hand-picked by Sephora experts based on the customers’ previous orders. Also, it would help to indicate the customer’s name on the header to add a personal touch.
Customer retention strategies should be part and parcel of every brand’s overall strategic direction. Scaling a business doesn’t stop after you’ve acquired customers. To ensure that the company goes beyond the growth stage, brands have to foster customer relationships. And prioritizing customer retention programs is arguably an effective way to make your customer keep coming back for more.