Getting customers is one thing. Getting them to come back and keep buying from you is entirely something else. While you might be putting a lot of energy into attracting new clients, you should also put some attention into nurturing relationships with past customers so they’ll bring you repeat business. Here are some strategies to do exactly that:
Treat Every Customer Like Your Only One
Consider your last doctor’s visit. Did you wait and wait for the doctor to finally show up, only for him to give you a cursory glance, write a prescription, and zoom out the door before you could ask any questions? Or did he arrive on time, take time to talk to you, and make you feel like his only patient for the day?
Consider that your customers will view your interactions in one of these two ways, based on how you treat them. If you’re always rushing past an interaction to get to the next sale, they won’t feel special, and they will have no reason to keep buying from you. On the other hand, if you take the time to get to know each customer and make them the center of your world, if only for a few minutes, those customers will feel that you value them and they’ll bring you business again and again.
Give Them Incentives
Make sure to leave room in your marketing strategy to incentivize customers to come back and buy again. If you ship products, include a flyer with a coupon code for a sizeable discount on their next order. Or send an email a week after a purchase with a buy one get one free offer. Continually providing enticing opportunities to buy from you — even if you lose a little money with the promotion — will make them more likely to do so.
Take Their Feedback Seriously
Maybe several customers have asked for you to carry a child-sized version of your line of jewelry. You can ignore this feedback…or you can act on it and know you’ve already got people interested in new products. Customers love it when you listen to them, and doing so can help you improve both your products and your service.
Check In Periodically
If it’s been a while since a customer ordered, give them a call or send an email to see how things are going. If you have relatively few clients (maybe you run a services business) this should be personal, whereas if you have thousands of customers, you can set up an automated email to be sent when you haven’t seen any purchase activity over a certain period, like three months. Don’t make pushing for a sale part of your agenda if you call them. You just want to check in and see what they’re up to.
Hold a “Bring a Friend” Event
If you have a local business, get your former customers in your store with a special event. If you run a spa, you could have an open house and offer mini treatments and product giveaways. Encourage your clientele to bring friends to your event. You could even offer spa services at a discount if they make an appointment during your event.
Be a Connector
This is a great strategy for a business in a service industry. When you help people solve their problems outside of buying from you, they are eternally grateful to you. For example: if you have a client who is looking for a house and you know a fantastic realtor, make the connection. If you have a client who broke her leg and can’t get around, recommend your housekeeper to help her out. This is an altruistic move that will strengthen your relationship with your clients.
Provide the Best Products or Services Possible
The best strategy for retaining your customers is to simply be the best at what you do. That doesn’t mean you have to be the cheapest in town, but you do have to go above and beyond what the competition is offering.
Melinda is a founder and president of Quintessence Group, an award-winning marketing consulting firm based in Philadelphia, PA, serving Fortune 500 brands who target small businesses.