Strong customer relationships are essential to long-term business success in any industry. However, winning customers is only part of the battle. Once a relationship is established, companies must focus on retaining customers. This process never ends, but remains fluid and ongoing throughout the lifetime of a company.
Find the Right Customers
Not every customer is the right customer for your business; the key is to identify repeat clients. A concise marketing and sales plan can help guide employees to find the ideal customer so your company doesn't waste time or resources. To start, develop one or more profiles of your target customers using experience and market research as a guide. Create a marketing and sales strategy for each profile, and alter the strategies as new information develops. When you invest marketing and sales time effectively, retaining customers is easier.
Create an Online Presence
In an age where smartphones are extensions of consumers' bodies, an online presence is a non-negotiable part of retaining customers. At a minimum, your company should have a well-designed website and at least one social media profile. Each one should be updated regularly; doing so demonstrates that you are responsive and reassures customers that they can find timely information online. Find ways to give information without requiring consumers to do extra work. Provide an online help database, create a prominent section for opening hours, and post frequent updates about sales or events. When customers can find the details they need quickly, you reduce the risk of losing them to another business with a more effective Web presence.
Focus on Service
Whether you are retaining customers or winning customers, service is crucial. Great service does not stop when the customer leaves the store; it should continue after the transaction in the form of emails, social media posts and other contacts. What's more, each person in the company must be empowered to serve the customer at each stage of the relationship. In the process, employees can collectively create a powerful brand experience that encourages customers to return.
Maintain the Relationship
Perhaps the most important part of retaining customers is what you do between transactions. Rather than hoping for customers to come back to you the next time the need strikes, make an effort to maintain the relationship. Send an email a few weeks after the sale to offer helpful hints, or check in to see if the customer has any questions. Send a special discount code as a thank you, or invite the customer to participate in a friends-and-family sale. Make sure that at least half of your contacts are light on marketing and sales language. In doing so, you can stay in contact without appearing pushy or irritating.
Winning and retaining customers is a long-term effort. By integrating each step of the relationship-building and maintenance process, you can make it a streamlined and natural part of everyday business operations.
Image courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net