Hold on to your customers

Customer retention is a hot topic at the moment and it tends to be so in every recession as the flow of new customers dries up as soon as the recession bites. At that point, companies turn their focus on keeping their existing customers in an effort to limit the financial damage.
And it’s not easy.
Not only new customers are hard to find during periods of economic stagnation, but the existing customers tend to go under more frequently, or review their costs and decide to cut down expenditure and inevitably more customers will leave during these times.
All this means you have to think more seriously about how to retain your customers before they actually leave you. Once they’ve made their minds up, it will be nearly impossible to change that. Be proactive and actively work on customer retention.
Here’s a starting point, a list of 5 points to keep your customers happy:

1. Establish a dialog

Tell your customers what you do, tell them about changes, improvements you’re making. Tell them about what’s new in the market.
But that’s only part of it. Encourage the customers to get into a dialog, so they tell you what they think, give you feedback, which leads into the next point … engagement.

2. Engage your customers

This is all about making your customers be more active, give you your feedback. Some ways to do that: feedback forms, surveys, forums, newsletter.
But go the extra step: call them and ask them for feedback, what they think. Some might not have the time to talk, but others will appreciate the extra mile you’re going.

3. Be there when they need you

Support should be fantastic. Reply to emails quickly and with good quality, helpful content. Do not reply for the sake of being responsive – aim to solve problems.
If you take phone calls, be helpful, polite and if you don’t know the answer be honest, tell them you will get back to them with an answer. Make sure you do.
When things go wrong, admit it, solve their problem, say sorry and maybe compensate them somehow – a small gift, discount and so on.

4. Improve the product / service

In a study done in the US, the main reason for customers leaving was poor customer support. The second main reason was poor product / service experience and quality.
Use all the feedback you get from your customers to improve your products and services.
Keep an eye on what your competitors are doing too and make sure you don’t fall behind.

5. Surprise your customers with little things

Surprise your customers with some unexpected little things: add something to their order, a thank you note, an extra small product, add a hand written note, call them to ask them how they’re doing, send a happy birthday note, give them a partial refund when you make a mistake, send them a small gift and so on.
The list is endless.
They will be pleasantly surprised because almost no other business does that and you will stand out.