In the world of business and commerce, anything that’s new is going to cost you… including gaining new customers.
Reaching out to new customers can add significantly more to your marketing budget as, customer for customer, the overall cost of acquiring a new customer is reported to be 5 to 10 times more than selling to or garnering repeat business from an existing clients, according to Inc.com.
So what can you do to bring more to the table and keep doing business with your existing clients, rather than having to find more from your budget for new ones?
The holy grail of customer retention has to be keeping customers for the right reasons: that they want to come back to you.
You should be aiming for this to be not only because they trust your business methods, products or services, but also that they actually feel the value… both getting genuine value for money themselves and being valued as a customer by your business.
If your products or services not only fill a gap in the market but are forging the way in industry innovation, then this may be enough to keep your clients coming back for more, just to be a part of it.
Apple and their products are a very good example of how to gain this type of customer loyalty through initial innovation, consistent branding and service. In this way, Apple has managed to bridge the gap between customer satisfaction and customer loyalty mainly by products alone.
From high value, maximum publicity air miles, to in-house stamped cards to get a free coffee for every 10 you buy, to discounts and loyalty programs for repeat customers are a popular part of corporate and sole trader business … and there are plenty to choose from. However, with the US’s 2011 Colloquy Customer Loyalty Census revealing that up to a third of all customers don’t redeem their loyalty bonuses, choosing the right scheme is paramount. But how do you choose? By putting your clients first … don’t think of a loyalty scheme which best serves you, instead ask yourself what your client might need or respond well to. Depending on the answer to that question, and your business model, your possibilities include:
Points systems: spend X and gain Y points, to put towards Z.
Tier systems, popular with corporations such as Virgin Airlines: spend / use A and gain B; spend and use A+ and gain B+.
Offering a paid-for add-on to your services. Although charging customers more may seem an odd way to motivate them to stick with you, offering them exclusive benefits in return is the way to get this working and to keep them coming back to you. Amazon’s Prime membership program is a good example of this.
Offer additional value by supporting a mutual interest or worthy cause. For example, if you’re selling fair trade products, show customers that their return spends with you will help to sponsor a fair trade project overseas.
Join forces with another company to offer mutual rewards and reductions for loyalty: popular combinations include theatres and restaurants for example, veterinary practices and pet food suppliers; hotels and local tourist attractions.
Whether you’re in the B2B world and want to continue working with another company or you’re a smaller company wanting to show your clients and customers that you value their continued business, corporate hospitality is a remarkably flexible way to achieve great results.
Whether you’re offering days out as a payback for loyalty so far, as reward incentives, or as an innovative product-launching event to entertain as well as pitch to your existing clients (and a few well-identified contacts) then hospitality events can be the ideal platform. It’s a myth that you have to have your own dedicated staff to organise such events as companies such as Team Tactics can take care of all the arrangements as well as provide all manner of entertainments and team-building activities.
Organising treats and incentives to keep your clients on board when everything’s all well and good is one thing, but when it’s not?
For consumers, customers and clients alike, often the real test of a service or product isn’t when all’s going well, it’s about what happens when things go wrong.
Who can forget the You Tube video of the FedEx courier delivering a computer monitor by throwing it over the fence of the property? This viral media age demonstrated that not all publicity is good publicity and the world waited to see if FedEx could possibly respond and rescue their reputation. But they did, and swiftly.
Immediately reaching out to the affected customer, FedEx then quickly recorded and uploaded their own video response in which the Senior Vice President of US Operations sincerely apologised to customers and reinforced the company’s values. This swift and appropriate response went a long way to restoring customer confidence in the company, which has gone on to show a 2.2 percent global and domestic (US) gain in growth for 2014.
All of which demonstrates that where customers are concerned, being responsive when problems arise and working with customers to put things right is a great way to retain loyalty and confidence from your customers… in good times and in bad.
This article is published with permission.