How to Improve Customer Retention

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Customer retention is something that you’ll want to aim a lot of attention towards, if you want your business to succeed in the long term. Once you get customer lifetime loyalty – you have hit the jackpot. 

Failure to work on your customer loyalty and improve customer retention plans will mean that your business is on a treadmill, trying to constantly win new customers, just because you’re losing so many existing ones – something that can become quite expensive.

After all, it costs 5 times more to acquire a new customer – than it does to keep your existing customer base.

In this post, we’re going to take a look at what you can do to improve brand loyalty and customer retention within your business.

We’ll look at how you can use data from previous customers to improve customer retention in the future, but also what you can ask your existing customer base, so that you are able to grow your customer relationships, improve customer lifetime and inspire repeat purchases and brand loyalty.

This PDF contains 5 bonus tips to help you improve customer retention and customer satisfaction overall through your customer loyalty program.

By the end of this post, you’ll know more than most, when it comes to getting customers lifetime loyalty to your brand.

Let’s begin! 

Understand why existing customers are leaving in the first place

If you want to improve customer retention, it’s a good idea to take a step back and figure out what is affecting your customer retention rate in the first place and why people are leaving.

If you know the reasons that lead to dips in your customer retention rate, you can take steps to tackle those reasons and to improve your customers experience of your brand.

And, if less people are leaving, you’ll not only be improving customer retention rate but also customer satisfaction and brand loyalty.

So, what can you do to figure out why people are leaving? We all know that people leaving isn’t always a good performance indicator for your brand.

One strategy you can adopt is to obtain customer feedback from those who have decided to no longer be customers.

As soon as a customer decides to terminate their account, you can send them a personal email, asking them why they decided to end the relationship. Asking for customer feedback is a great way to ascertain if there are any customer complaints, and if there are – you can work on improving customer satisfaction to encourage repeat purchases and to improve customer retention rates.

Not everyone will reply to your email with customer feedback, but those that do will provide a performance indicator and some valuable insight into what you need to be doing better to improve your retention rate and how to improve your customer loyalty program.

It’s important that, when you do this, you acknowledge everything that is being said.

You can’t be in denial, when reading the responses that you’re receiving from ‘ex’ customers. To improve your customer satisfaction it all starts with listening to what they have to say.

Sure, criticism and negative customer feedback can be a hard thing to deal with, especially on social media.  But, if it helps to make your company better, all while improving customer experience – you should welcome it as a performance indicator.

You don’t have to request customer feedback exclusively by email.

You can also provide people with a survey, too.

Using a survey as a performance indicator, the customer that is cancelling their account can easily select a reason that explains why they took the action that they did. This customer feedback can be used to adapt your customer loyalty program, to improve customer experience for new customers and to generally improve customer satisfaction and encourage repeat purchases.

Some companies immediately display a survey after someone cancels their account.

Because the survey is presented right after the account is cancelled, an honest response is more likely, because the reason for cancelling is fresh in the mind of the customer. This also shows that you care about their opinion which works well in improving potential future customer relationships.

Surveys also tend to work well as a performance indicator, because they don’t take too much effort on the customer’s part.

However, this can be a problem, too, because it will be hard to receive in-depth responses that provide you with actionable suggestions you can act upon to improve customer retention and to adapt your customer loyalty program.

So, if you can, avoid relying exclusively on multiple choice responses and aim to also provide an option that allows customers to input comments using their own words, too.

You might even want to send existing loyal customers a survey that helps measure your Net Promoter Score.

This lets you know how many people would recommend your company to someone else. Word of mouth recommendations and having loyal customers as honest brand advocates is a sure fire way of getting new customers while keeping your retention rate high.

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You can create such a survey using Survey Monkey.

It’s worth mentioning that you should try and split test your interactions with cancelling customers.

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The image above shows the original email GrooveHq sent to customers who decided to cancel their account.

GrooveHq managed to doubled email response rates to 19%, by changing their ‘quick question,’ to ‘What made you cancel?’ from ‘Why did you cancel?’

So, as with all aspects of online marketing – make sure that you’re willing to test your customer feedback emails, if you want to achieve optimal response rates.

Remember that for every customer complaint, there are, on average, 26 who remain silent regarding the same issue

Any discoveries you do make are likely going to apply to a fair few of your customers – meaning you need to act on them if you want to inspire customer loyalty, attract new customers and keep your customers for a lifetime.

Improve customer experience

Customer experience also plays a big role in repeat purchase and customer retention rates.

Some research suggests that 68% of customers leave because of poor treatment and poor customer relationships and customer lifetime.

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There are two parts to improving customer experience and customer satisfaction overall, to encourage repeat purchases and brand loyalty.

The first includes taking the customer feedback you have received from existing customers, through a satisfaction survey or other customer engagement, and putting it into action.

The second includes working on specific parts of your business that will impact customer retention and customer expectations, such as a customer loyalty program. 

I can’t provide you with a lot of guidance related to the first part, because I do not have access to feedback provided by your customers.

However, I can highlight some of the key parts of your business that you need to be focusing on if you want to improve your customer retention strategy and inspire repeat business.

The first element you need to focus on is the customer on-boarding process.

It is essential that during the customer on-boarding process, you clearly provide new customers with the training that they need, in order to use your product effectively. This will set the tone of your customer relationship and is an important part of your client retention strategy.

If you can use the on-boarding process to achieve some quick wins for the new customer, you’ll increase the chances of the them becoming long term customers and gaining better brand loyalty and customer loyalty.

The on-boarding process doesn’t need to be entirely digital.  You can arrange a phone call with new customers, during which you help them get started and answer any questions that they might have. This simple action can have a huge impact on your customer retention rates and can lead to those new customers becoming loyal customers. Make it clear that your customer loyalty program is focussed on ensuring a happy customer lifetime and customer satisfaction.

The second element that you need to focus on is customer service and a positive customer experience.

This is similar to the on-boarding process – though it applies to a longer time scale, across the customer lifetime.

Your customers want to feel respected and that you’re listening to what they have to say.

Customer service opportunities are your chance to make them feel that way.

One key way that you can improve the customer experience and service within your company is by making your support team easily accessible.

A great way to achieve this is by providing a live chat solution, on your site or social media. This way when your customers have an issue, there is always someone to help and listen and this will certainly improve your customer relationships. 

There are many live chat solutions available.  One example is www.livechatinc.com.

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Live chat is a good option, because it’s fast.

You may also want to provide a phone number that customers can use to reach out to you, should they have any questions.

It is important that you make both the live chat and the phone number easily visible.

Don’t make it hard for your customers when they want to speak to you if you want to improve customer retention rates.

Aside from feeling respected, customers also value speed, when it comes to customer support. 

After all, if your service is critical to the functioning of their business, any time wasted could also mean money lost on their side – and maybe your side too, if long support times cause them to cancel. They won’t have a good customer experience if they have to wait and this isn’t what you want when you are trying to inspire loyal customers.

If the current staff you have assigned to support are overwhelmed, consider allocating some more people to the support team, to ensure a good customer experience for your customer base.

It might sound odd, but great customer service can also be a great marketing tool. 

If your customers have a great experience with your support staff, there is a good chance that they’ll let other people know about what happened either by social media or word of mouth, potentially improving brand loyalty and attracting new customers.

Here is an example from a Zappos customer who tweeted about their customer experience.  –

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Of course, the reverse is also true.  If customers have a bad experience, they’ll also be vocal and seeing negative press about your brand on social media can have a huge knock on effect on brand loyalty and repeat purchases, along with losing you a ton of potential new customers.

In some cases, such as when an issue is taking a while to deal with, you, the CEO, might want to step in.

A lot of loyal customers appreciate when someone high up in a company takes the time to address a long standing issue.

The third element you’ll want to focus on is usability of your service, and ‘User Experience,’ in general.

Luckily, you can use the customer feedback provided by previous customers in order to improve the customer experience of your business and customer satisfaction.

However, if you don’t have any user experience feedback from past customers to work with, hope is not lost.

Ask current and loyal customers about their experience, to learn what they’d like to see improved.

By interacting with loyal customers this way, you’ll be able to unearth insights that might not have come to you otherwise.

In addition, you loyal customers will appreciate you working on the product and constantly iterating it so that it produces a better customer experience for them. This is an awesome example of how to use current users as part of your performance indicator in order to improve customer retention rate.

If you want to obtain this kind of information from customers, you can just send out an email, or social media post, where you’re asking customers what features they like and what they’d like to see improved.

Alternatively, you could speak to existing customers on the phone and get some insight from them that way.

On the other hand, you might just want to watch someone use your website or service and see if they can achieve simple tasks.

You can do this in person or you can use something, like CrazyEgg, to see how people are using and moving through your site.

You may even want to create something known as a ‘feature requests form,’ whereby customers can provide suggestions whenever they feel like it, providing you with a useful performance indicator.

Improve customer relationships

This might sound similar to we were covering above, but, in fact, this section relates to just improving the customer relationship in general and not in relation to making the actual product better.

Many tend to stop being a customer of a company, or do not make a repeat purchase, if they feel as though the company doesn’t care about them and this is why customer loyalty programs need to be considered.

Now, we’ve already covered above how the implementation of great customer service and acting on feedback can improve customer relationships and help to retain customers.

But, there are other things that you can do to make the loyal customer feel valued and as though they are not just another cog in the machine.

One way that you can achieve that is by providing some perks for customers who have been with you for an extended period of time, also known as a customer loyalty program.

Question if there is any way that you can reward existing customers by providing them with something extra, in relation to whatever product or service your business already provides. This customer loyalty program can inspire repeat purchases and keep your customer retention rate nice and steady.

Doing so can potentially lead to 54% of customers increasing the amount of business that they do with you.

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You can also improve customer relationships by building a sense of community.

Some businesses like to host live events, in order to get this done.

However, if you don’t have the budget for that kind of thing, just yet, you can always use social media, for example, by starting up a Facebook Group.

You can also send existing customers a thank you note, from time to time, showing your appreciation that they’re a customer. You don’t need a huge over the top customer loyalty program, sometimes just a small note of appreciation can be enough to make loyal customers feel valued.

Here’s an example from a company that provides a ‘towing service.’

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Here’s a company that attributes it success to writing over 13,000 thank you notes!

You may also want to be more proactive, in the way that you provide support to existing loyal customers.

Check in on them and see how they’re doing – even if they do not send you any correspondence asking for help.

Taking the first step can be a great way to remind customers that you’re there to help them, should they need you.

Conclusion

Obtaining new customers for your business is a lot harder than keeping existing ones locked in with brand loyalty.  In this post, we’ve taken a look at the steps that you need to take, if you want to keep your existing customers fixed up with repeat purchases. Your customer retention rate matters and is worth investing in your customer loyalty program, rather than constantly pouring your efforts into nailing down new customers.

We’ve placed a focus on how you can find out why previously loyal customers are leaving, but also what can be done with the information that you have unearthed to fix your customer retention rate and keep those customers for a lifetime.

We’ve examined how you can keep existing customers happy, using methods that don’t necessarily relate to creating a better user experience.

Take action on these tips, and use them to improve customer retention rates in your business. There’s a good chance that you’ll be able to see some positive results by doing so and that you will see a boost in brand loyalty, word of mouth advertising, social media marketing, and better customer relationships all round.

What have you found to work best when it comes to improving customer retention?

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