Question of the day: do you know why your customers stay loyal or why they defect?
Chances are that you’re like most businesses that rank customer retention as one of the top 3 business challenges.
Understanding the motivations behind customer loyalty and customer defection is a major key to profitability. I recently read a survey conducted by SAS and Loyalty360.com that found 68% of new business sales come from current customers. Yet, I’d venture to say that the fight for customer loyalty is greater than ever.
When it comes to customer retention, the war is on.
To win, you must create a winning plan for battle. Here are a few strategies that I’ve seen work first-hand:
- Define characteristics of loyal customers vs. one-time users.
Look at the lay of the land; jot down the shared characteristics of your loyal customers versus those who are just one-time users.Consider demographics, geography, seasonal trends, marketing campaigns and everything else that comes to mind. What pricing, marketing, and customer service techniques can you develop in order to turn one-time customers into full-time customers?
- Ask to build trust.
In the SAS and Loyalty360.com study I referenced earlier in the post, 16% of businesses reported that life-cycle begins in pre-sales activities (like direct mail or mobile advertising), and 29% begins at the first contact with a customer.So, to build loyalty, you have to build trust.The fastest ways to build trust? Ask.So for example, before assuming a customer wants to be on your email list, ask them. Or, let people see the real you and what your company stands for by frequently posting on a company blog and social media sites (like we do!) .
To get “love” from customers, you’ve gotta give love. Just remember that in the end, people do business with people. Create a personable brand to create trust.
- Match coupons with customer needs. Bring in the new recruits! Direct mail coupons are still a great way to stay top of mind with long-time customers AND bring in new ones. I see them work for businesses every day.The best direct mail marketing has a strong offer with universal appeal, a clear call to action, and a message that conveys how you meet any customer’s need.Another take on this: sometimes customers forget they “need” you. That’s where something like a mobile app comes in handy. Stick with me… imagine a customer is driving by your business and a notification pops up on their phone. It tells them how far they are from your front door AND presents an offer that motivates them to walk through your door. That’s what our new Valpak app helps business owners do. Consumers add coupons to Passbook using the mobile app. Then, when they are nearby they get a reminder notification so they won’t forget to take advantage of the deal. Talking about meeting a customer need at the right time and place.
- No mixed messages.
I know just how difficult it can be to market your business when there are others in your ear, all with differing opinions on what you should do next. Your business partner has a great new idea for a special, your spouse doesn’t like the image used in the last campaign and your account reps have their own thoughts on what needs to be promoted. Sound familiar? It does to me! The problem with this is that it often results in mixed marketing messages.At the end of the day, I’ve learned that the opinions that matters most are those of your best customers. (To be sure you really do know who they are, read my blog post about it.)So gather the troops! Talk to your customers about your marketing efforts to learn what makes them tick. Then, adjust your offers, and messaging to match what they say. Perhaps more importantly, contact customers in your database that haven’t visited you recently to find out why – and adjust your marketing so that it reconnects with them.
In the end, loyalty means being consistent with what you do RIGHT. Loyalty is created when you meet a customer need and consistently deliver on that need. To that end:
- Apply continuous checkpoints through each step of a customer’s experience with your business to ensure you’re meeting their needs.
- Treat each interaction a customer has with your brand, be it through direct mail coupons, purchases at a cash register, loyalty cards, social media, website visits or phone calls, with meticulous care.
Winning the war in customer retention means focusing on each battle.
What are your recent experiences with customer loyalty? How are you keeping them around? Are you doing any research to find out why they defect? I’m curious to hear what you think, leave me a note in the comments.