Acquiring new customers is always a huge advantage to business, but in many cases,  attention could be better devoted to retaining existing ones. Studies by Bain & Company, and the Harvard Business School have revealed that increasing the customer retention rate by 5 percent can increase profits by between 25 and 95 percent. These figures should be enough to commence a new focus on the strategies that can be taken to retain customers, but without neglecting the efforts made to attract new business.

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Offer an onboarding programme

Through an onboarding programme, new customers can learn how to use a product or service. This is done with the help of a company representative that gives personalised training to meet the specific needs of the individual customer. The reason this process is effective is because it can prevent any difficulties or frustrations that new customers may have when getting started. Customers usually prefer to minimise the time they spend learning how to use the product or service, so personalised onboarding can help them to do this within a specific timeframe.

Personalise your relationship

In many cases, customers place greater value on the quality of customer service than they do on the product. This means that such things as friendliness, familiarity and comfort can make a huge difference to sales. Recent research has shown that 80 percent of consumers are more inclined to make a purchase when a personalised experience is given. This can be achieved by greeting customers by name, customising offers and showing appreciation with thank you notes, special offers, coupons or asking for feedback.

Encourage interaction

Engaging with your customers shows that they are important to you, and it means that you will stay in the forefront of their minds. You can do this by bringing their attention to promotions, product updates, rewards programmes and any content that you think they will have an interest in. Brands can invite customers to take part in competitions or share their stories. They can also engage in any difficulties they may have, or reach out to those they haven’t heard from in a while. With a positive and friendly tone, most customers will appreciate the subtle touches.

Utilise social media

With more than half of the world’s population using social media, at an average 144 minutes a day, the influence and opportunities of the field are undeniable. Companies are able to promote their brand, engage with customers, showcase the personal side of the business and build trust. They can also change any negative perceptions of the company, resolve product issues or address complaints. Social media is another way of showing that the business is listening and it cares.

Address problems

When customers encounter real difficulties with a product or service, not receiving the right answers can be extremely frustrating and leave a very negative impression of the brand. In order to avoid this, companies need to work hard to ensure the correct problem-solving channels are in place. In times of crisis, people do not want to be referred to an FAQ page, nor speak to a bot. Customer service representatives should be empowered to respond to difficulties accordingly and always put the customer first.

Customer feedback loop

Companies that don’t know how their customers feel will not be able to respond accordingly and develop their processes. This means customer feedback needs to be obtained and then shared throughout the organisation. This process of collecting, analysing and distributing is known as the customer feedback loop. Feedback can be collected through surveys, user testing or focus groups. Through analysis we can look at trends in customer behaviour and areas to enhance the experience, then this data should be shared with the relevant departments.

Introduce a loyalty scheme

Loyalty is what is needed to retain customers, so a loyalty scheme should be the most appropriate. This is a way of rewarding customers for their continued loyalty, and to keep them from switching to other brands with better offers. By awarding points to customers each time they shop or interact with your business, the more likely they will be to use the product or service in the future. Studies suggest that the top 10 percent of a customer base spends three times more than the remainder, so a greater emphasis should be placed on keeping these customers satisfied.

End things with grace

In around 70 percent of cases, consumers end their relationship with a business as a result of negative customer service experiences. This should be a lesson to brands that are failing to deliver, so hopefully feedback can be successfully obtained. There also remains the prospect of customers returning if improvements can be made or the right incentives given. For this reason, the relationship should be ended on the best possible terms, so customers may know that there is always the option of coming back.

Managing the customer experience in order to induce customers to return on a continual basis is a challenging path to navigate. But with the increased availability of tools that aid the collection and analysis of data, customer behaviour can be more easily interpreted. Businesses are becoming more customer focussed, but in emerging markets that are competitive and in a constant state of change – nothing but the best is good enough.