Finding new customers can be more time consuming and costly than retaining your existing clients. Bearing this in mind, care should be taken to invest resources in both the retention of your existing customers as well as finding new clients. We would like to share with you our top 5 tips which we found beneficial in our customer retention strategy.

Stay in Touch

In my opinion staying in touch with your customers is the single most important means of retaining customers.  A scheduled phone call or a meeting in person twice or even once a year can ensure that you stay connected to your clients.  Arranging such meetings helps you to focus on the provision of the service or products you supply to your clients.  I have used these meetings as opportunities to present our clients with a summary of the number of calls we have handled on their behalf during the previous 6 months and in doing so provide some useful information in the process.  Listening to your customer during your customer care meetings is really important.  Valuable information can be gathered regarding the current events of your clients business.  There may be opportunities to up-sell or to adapt the service you provide to make it more relevant or user friendly.  Feedback from your customers is vital in the process of customer retention so you need to be prepared for comments which can be positive as well as negative.   Acting on negative feedback should be welcomed and steps should be taken immediately to remedy the issue.  This can result in an even better working relationship with your client as they recognise that you have listened to them and made the necessary corrections.

Keep your promise

A lot of companies use a by-line when advertising their products or services which incorporates superlatives such as ‘the best, ‘the fastest’, ‘the tastiest’ etc.  It is vital therefore that the company lives up to it’s promise.  A customer whether new or existing has bought in to this promise and will be quick to remind you if you are not true to your word.  It is therefore critical that you continually remind all of your employees of the importance of their input in relation to delivering on that promise.   Each contact your customer has with your company is an opportunity for you to re-inforce the USP of your company and your team need to understand the vital role this plays in the companies customer retention strategy.

Know your competitors

Keeping abreast of developments within your industry is also a very important aspect of customer retention.  Knowing exactly what your competitors offer is crucial in retaining customers.  By doing a regular competitive analysis, products or services which may be perceived by existing clients as cheaper elsewhere will be highlighted.  Businesses often review the competitiveness of their suppliers within the market and you will need to be prepared to offer better service if you cannot afford to decrease your cost.  Don’t be tempted to reduce your price to match your competitors as price is not always the deciding factor when choosing suppliers.  Work through your sales process from the very first call answered by your receptionist to your ongoing after-sales customer service and you may be surprised to see that you are offering a superior service to your competitors.

Suggestions for Improvement

We are all familiar with the customer satisfaction cards found in hotel bedrooms which invite guests to rate their stay.  As part of your customer retention strategy, it is important to find a means by which you can incorporate this process in to your business.  Web-based survey solutions such as Survey Monkey simplify this process and the feedback on graphs, pie-charts and percentages will give an instant indication of any trends.  If you have an after-sales customer care helpline, your call answering staff have a great opportunity to ask for suggestions for improvement in your product or service.

Stick to ‘The Plan’

Devise a concise plan for customer retention for your business and include achievable dates for completion of each step.  Depending on the nature of your business, measuring the outcome will be the final step of the plan.  In our business, where we provide a call answering service for clients who divert their phones to us, we can easily see how long they have been clients of ours, however, another useful metric may be to measure the increase year on year of your top 10 clients to find out if your customer retention strategy has resulted in increased volume or turnover.