Retaining loyal clients just makes business sense. Repeat clients spend more and are easier to convert than first-time shoppers. But building those relationships can be tricky, especially if you manage a lot of client accounts. Here are nine of our top tips for cultivating customer loyalty and retaining clients, from asking for feedback to apologizing like a pro.
Keep in touch regularly.
Sometimes no news is good news, especially when it comes to customer support. If people aren’t reaching out, then everything is probably working as planned. However, you shouldn’t depend on customers to keep the conversation going, and it’s a good idea to reach out on a regular basis to keep them updated on your product or service and see how they’re doing. Even if they don’t need anything from you at the moment, a personal email from a sales rep will let them know you’re thinking of them.
Celebrate milestones together.
Speaking of checking in, milestones are a great chance to do this naturally. If you work with individual clients, birthdays are a popular time to reach out (often with a discount or other reward) to make them feel special. However, if your clients are all B2B, celebrating a different milestone such as your six-month or one-year anniversary of working together is more appropriate. If you track the data, it can be really fun to pull together some highlights—i.e., projects completed, minutes logged, etc.—to see how far you’ve come together.
Say thank you.
Sometimes you don’t need a specific milestone to reach out and say “thank you.” It can be as simple as a quick email, or if you really want to get fancy, you can go with a handwritten card. End-of-year appreciation gifts around the winter holidays are also a tradition in client-based businesses, but you’ll want to do some advanced planning and flex your creative muscles to make sure that your gifts don’t get lost in the shuffle. Branded promotional products will ensure that your clients know exactly which gifts came from you.
Highlight loyal customers.
Not all “thank yous” have to be cards or promotional gifts. If you have some customers who are really jazzed about your product or service, leverage their enthusiasm and ask if they would be willing to write or film a testimonial for your website. These testimonials are also great fodder for email campaigns to current customers and leads so you can showcase what’s possible with your product using real-world examples.
Put personalization to use.
The more time you spend with your clients, the more you’ll get to know them, and you should be leveraging that knowledge. If you use a marketing automation system, technology will collect that data for you, but it’s also good to remember customer preferences from your personal meetings and phone calls with them. Use this information to guide the content you send them. If your client is interested in increasing brand awareness, focus your attention on that rather than (say) launching a new product.
Reward them for referrals.
Word of mouth is one of the most popular marketing tools in your arsenal, so you should absolutely be incentivizing customers to use it. Offering a discount or some other type of perk in exchange for a referral (or X amount of referrals) will get you more leads and give your customers a fantastic motivation to spread the word. Even better is a loyalty system that rewards both customers and new leads. For example, if you refer someone and they sign up for a trial, you get $20 off and so do they.
Ask for feedback and implement it.
Your customers work closely with your products or service, and they pay you for it, so they’re in the best position to tell you what they want and what they’re willing to pay for. However, very few people will proactively reach out to offer ideas for new features, so you’ll need to get the ball rolling and solicit feedback from them. Many customers will be flattered that you value their opinion, but just asking isn’t enough. You need to follow through and implement the best suggestions to show that you take them seriously.
Respond quickly to support tickets.
Nothing is more frustrating than sitting on hold or having to send three emails to customer service before getting a response. When a customer reaches out for help, try to respond as promptly as possible, even if it’s just to pass them off to the right person. If you can’t solve their problem directly, try to keep an eye on the ticket and make sure it doesn’t languish in the queue. When you’re going to be out of the office or unable to respond quickly, make sure that your OOO message has alternative contacts that customers can reach out to in case of an emergency.
Apologize when you make a mistake.
No one is perfect and each sales rep is bound to make mistakes sometimes. When you goof, own up to it and apologize to your clients. Tell them you’re sorry and explain what steps you and/or your company are taking to fix it. If necessary, review the complaint or error with your customer to figure out what went wrong where. While you may think that mistakes and apologies will drive customers away, if you do it correctly you can actually diffuse their frustration and build customer loyalty in the process.
Building close relationships with your customers takes time and effort, but it’s so worth it in the end. Not only are they likely to spend far more money with you, a good working relationship makes business much more pleasant and even enjoyable. Start building loyal customer relationships today with these nine strategies.
Guest Post: About the Author
Lee Becknell serves as the Senior Digital Marketing Manager for Pinnacle Promotions. Lee oversees digital marketing from the Atlanta, GA headquarters. She has been with Pinnacle for over six years. Lee enjoys spending time with her husband, son and golden retriever, running and taking naps.