Written by Victoria Standridge

Did you know it costs 5 times as much to acquire a new customer than to keep an existing one? Along with the fact that you’re much more likely to sell to an existing customer than to a new one, it’s not difficult to see why customer retention is one of the paramount concerns of every company, big and small.

But how, exactly, do you keep a customer coming back to you again and again? With more and more businesses popping up both online and offline, competition is harsher than ever before. But there are still tried and true strategies you can use to earn - and keep! - the loyalty of your customers.

  1. Give your customers a little extra

    If you’re running a restaurant, you don’t need to do anything else, but provide good food and good customer service, and that may be enough. But to impress customers and keep them coming back to you, it’s the extras that set you apart.

    What else might a customer enjoy? They might come back for the pitcher of complimentary fresh, cold water you provide for every table on a hot summer day. Or they will choose you again and again because they know that you can always be trusted to provide childcare accouterments, whether it’s a highchair or a changing table.

    Have you noticed that in luxury and high-end stores and establishments, customers are offered complimentary coffee or champagne, in order to round out their experience in their store? The experience is thought out in detail in order to anticipate every possible need the customer may have. That’s the mentality you need.

    What you can do: This may very well come to define your business and customers will rely on you to get this extra perk. It’s a small investment for a huge long-term return. In 2022, the most important “extra” you can provide, by far, is a reliable Wi-Fi connection. Especially if you’re in the hospitality business, investing in a reliable internet provider is an absolute must.

    Choose a good provider and enough bandwidth to ensure smooth running of your own services, as well as supporting all the extra users. That alone will have people coming back, even if it’s just for the convenience of Wi-Fi. Starbucks made a business model out of being the go-to for remote working professionals, teens, and even people holding interviews, all thanks to free Wi-Fi. It’s more important than you think.

  2. Offer a consistent experience

    One of the most frustrating aspects of interacting with a business is an inconsistent experience. You bought something once and the process was exceptional, but the second time, it was an inferior experience. All the little details you appreciated the first time were missing. Perhaps it wasn’t a bad experience, necessarily, but it was different, and that’s enough to make a customer think that the company is unreliable.

    Think about the giants of customer experience that the American customer is loyal to. What do places like McDonalds and Target have over their competitors? They offer a consistent experience, even if they don’t offer luxury. Sometimes, that’s even more valuable.

    Your customer knows that no matter where they are, no matter where they’re going, in what state, at what time of the day or night, they can come to you and they will get the experience they are familiar with. That helps them associate your company and your services with consistency and reliability, and that’s how customer loyalty is born.

    What you can do: Think about the most important tenets of customer service and customer experience in your company, whether you’re a coffee shop or a digital agency. What defines you? Establish some core principles that you can maintain and promise to your customers.

    Efficiency, affordability, and accuracy are usually important, but pick the ones that make sense for your business and advertise them prominently. Your customers will appreciate your commitment to your principles.

  3. Ensure impeccable customer service

    89% of companies agree: customer service is essential in customer retention and turning people into repeat customers. There is no longer any excuse for poor customer service. The customer is always right, and they will take to Twitter to announce their displeasure if they are not treated well. That’s why this should be your priority.

    Ensuring great customer service is not just essential, it’s also very easy. What you need is well-trained staff - both online and offline - who have a passion for service and are willing to go the extra mile. Your customers need to always be able to reach you through whatever means are most convenient to them.

    Email and phone numbers are a given, but you may want to also set up an online chat feature, as well as a customer service team on your socials. Customers nowadays often go to social media first, so you want to offer them a way to address their questions and grievances instead of leaving unanswered comments or redirecting them to a phone number. Your customers tell you what they want - listen to them.

    What you can do: The most efficient feature, by far, are chatbots. That’s an innovation and an investment you can make for the well-being of both employees and customers. Chatbots are always free, always available to provide basic information and respond to FAQs.

    That means that customers are getting the information they’re looking for instantly, without waiting on the phone forever. In addition, that frees up time for the customer service representatives, who can focus on the customers who have more complex questions. It’s a win-win for your business.

  4. Don't let your customers forget about you

    Customers are constantly bombarded with marketing from all sides, nowadays, which means they’re overloaded with options. What you want is to make sure that you’re still their preferred option. For that, you have to not let them forget about you.

    Keeping in touch with your customers is easier than ever, and it can be done through multiple means. Marketing emails and newsletters are still a valid way to reach your customer base and keep them interested.

    But by far, the best way to stay in people’s minds is to cultivate an active social media presence. Think about who your target customer is and identify the platform they use most. Facebook is great to capture the attention of the 50+ demographic, 30- and 40-year-olds can mostly be reached via Twitter and Instagram, and people in their teens and 20s largely congregate on TikTok.

    What you can do: Well thought-out content is better than any ad, because it’s organic and there is no sales pitch. A quality post 3 times a week provides value to your followers and ensures your company is fresh in their minds without spamming them unnecessarily.

    Customers value authenticity and great content; they will come for the great service and stay for the great content.

Bottom line

Customer retention is always a hot topic, no matter if your business is digital or if you have a brick & mortar location. While the success of some tactics is often debated, there are still reliable ways to ensure that you keep your customers coming back. All you have to do is offer them the basics they are looking for in an excellent experience.

Maintaining high quality customer service is crucial, of course, but you mustn’t forget that it’s the extra little details that push you over the edge. What can you offer your customers that will make you memorable? In addition to that, you want to use social media to your advantage to stay fresh in their minds. That will help you get the repeat business that is so coveted.

Two entrepreneurs leaning on counter at their cafe