How to Keep Your Customers Coming Back
Most business owners know that acquiring a new customer takes a lot more in money, time and resources than keeping customers. Having a high rate of return customers is a good cycle to be in for a few different reasons, and not just the up-front cost! The higher your percentage of return customers, the more resources and energy you’ll be able to delegate to making sure their experience is a good one, thus continuing this cycle of having them come back. Repeat or return customers are free marketing, as their good experience will spread word-of-mouth through general conversation or recommendations.
The current market and economy can be a challenging landscape to navigate for business owners right now. We’ve talked about how to market your business and attract customers, but how do you keep them coming back for more? Whether you offer a product, service, or combination of the two, here are our top ways to keep customers coming back.
1) Know the difference between a repeat customer and a return customer
While the idea is similar, a repeat customer versus a return customer is somewhat based on what type of business you own. A repeat customer returns over and over (often on a regular basis) to your business. These are often smaller purchases, like if you own a retail or food service business. A return customer is someone who has made a purchase or used a service and then comes back at a later date. So a repeat customer comes back over and over, while a return customer comes back once, or at infrequent intervals. These are often for larger services, like advertising or marketing, that wouldn’t be happening on such a regular basis. A repeat customer is the goal, but for some business models, a return customer makes the most sense.
2) Customer service should be a priority
Whether you’re aiming for repeat or return customers, the best way to leave someone with a good experience (outside of your quality service or product) is through a positive customer service experience. Work to engage with the customer on a social and professional level, and develop a feeling of trust and engagement that is backed up by your services. Your employees and associates should be well versed in this priority, and you can empower your front-line employees to make decisions with the customer as opposed to always involving bureaucratic hierarchies, which can result in customers feeling less engaged with the process and the people.
3) Establish loyalty programs
A loyalty program can operate on a few different levels, depending on your business structure or offerings. Retail or food service businesses have demonstrated great results with punch cards or membership programs, encouraging this “repeat customer” frequency. If your offerings are larger scale, consider offering a discount structure for return clients. Do you create marketing videos? If they enjoy the service, perhaps their upcoming quarterly ad can be 15% off full value.
4) Update your product and service offerings without losing the classics
Keep your return clients and customers coming back by keeping their favorites in rotation, whether it’s an actual item or a service offering, but varying seasonal specials. Update line items in the rotation, and promote new services. Your marketing and enthusiasm matters here, so get the word out! Your clients and customers are already happy with your business, so remind them why they started coming in, and what the newest and most exciting updates are to keep it fresh.
5) Treat customer complaints with respect
No one wants negative feedback, but operate a business long enough and it’s hard to avoid an unhappy customer. Treat these customers with respect and try to understand where they’re coming from. Work with them to find a solution everyone can be happy with, and try to end the engagement and job on a positive note. Sometimes, the customers who had an initially poor experience will be so impressed by how you handled it that they’ll end up as return clients. Plus, like good customer service, dealing with a complaint in a professional and respectful manner makes for excellent public and community relations.
6) Make sure your customers trust you
If people are patronizing your business for the first time, you have a chance to make a great initial impression. They might be hesitant, but something brought them in. Foster that sense of trust with up-front communication, demonstrating your expertise, and being communicative and reliable. Following through on your promise through your product or service is one of the most critical parts of the full customer experience, and will help guarantee they come back again.