Improve Customer Retention The Smart Way

There are many ways to improve customer retention.

improve custoemr retention

And it easy to do what others suggest as the best approach.

This can lead you to use the wrong process that may not achieve results.

The reason why is it depends on what works best for your business and customers. It also depends on your customer retention strategies.

On a blog there was discussion about this topic. The author strongly advocated providing information as the way to go.

Yet as one person commented if a shoe retailer only sent emails about good discounts and free shipping they would be very happy and loyal.

As customers buy many products or services can you imagine how stressed they could get if every company interacted in the same way.

Customer preferences

Customers have their preferred way to interact with businesses. One of the worst ways to interact is to assume.

  • Some customers want information via email each week or month
  • Some only want the latest deals
  • Others don’t want to hear from you and will still buy
  • Customer may want you to be proactive to achieve their outcomes
  • Others want to interact only on social media platforms
  • Some may want to hear of new products or services and get samples

While the differences could make you shake your head and think it is too difficult to work out, it doesn’t have to be complicated.

The key is to first realise that they will have preferences which when known can improve your customer retention communication quickly. Remember the communication preferences will depend on what you sell and the repeat purchase rate.

Customer feedback

The simplest way to improve your customer retention is to ask your customers for feedback. Ideally this is when they purchase your product or service.

However it is never too late to ask current customers.

Work out the different ways and options that you can provide and get the feedback from customers. They are likely to appreciate your approach and it can lead to strengthening the relationships as well as business growth.

Depending on the number of customers you can segment your customers and set up the process. Once you have the feedback you should be able to set up your process quickly.

It is a smart way and simple way designed to take the complexity out of customer interactions to improve customer retention.

Over to you: do you have a tailored process with current customers?

Do you want to increase customer retention? If you do, I can help. Click Here to see how.

photo credit: Peter Forret via photopin cc

24 Responses to Improve Customer Retention The Smart Way

  1. Motivation for the feedback has to be very strong, the site owner has to offer something in return. I saw many giveaway event where the user has to leave a feedback and get something for it… So, you’ll never get until you give..

  2. Because of what I do, I have very few clients (don’t worry, it’s OK!) so it’s not much of a problem for me. I know how they like to communicate. Another interesting post would be about how often to communicate with your prospects. Is it annoying when they receive emails from you weekly, bi-weekly, monthly? If you ask them, will they tell you drop them from your list and do you want that to happen? How often should you try to make a personal appointment? These are not easy questions. A colleague and I are looking for business from a client who moved to a new company. So far, every coffee date has been moved back — now it’s in June. Think it will happen!?

    • Hi Jeannette,

      Great idea about the post topic and I will write about it as it is important especially these days. The client is probably swamped and I am sure will meet with you. At least you continue to set up the meeting. One agency I worked for decided to let a new client settle in who we knew and guess what they got into trouble for not contacting him as soon as he joined. It is a fine balance.

  3. Good advice Susan.

    Asking your customers how and what they want you to convey to them is spot on. And so is that it’s never too late to ask. We are all different and hence interested in receiving different kinds of information in different ways.

    Asking your customers also show that you respect them as individuals and are not going to send them all kinds of information they don’t want.

  4. As always Susan, this is great advice and seems like common sense when you put it so simply. Everyone has their favorite way of communicating and learning. Some people like to read, others prefer visuals like images and video. Some people prefer audio books, some like Kindle and some like the feel of a hard cover or paperback. So, we need to try to accommodate all of these methods.

    The process that I tailor for my customers is communication. Although email is my preference, some clients want to talk via phone, Skype or Google hangouts. Right now, I’m working with a client who lives close enough to want all our meetings to be over coffee. (I’ve known her for years.) It’s definitely not the most cost effective method but it works in her comfort level. So, we communicate via email, phone and (a few) face-to-face meetings.

    • Hi Sherryl,

      Your examples regarding communication with your clients shows your flexibility and I am sure your clients appreciate it. Your client wanting to meet over coffee is a good reminder that we need to understand their comfort levels especially for service businesses.

      Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  5. I benefited from this post, thank you. For my own business, this has helped me to keep in mind, not only to contact them via their preferences, but to be available in various outlets so they can FIND me through ways or channels of their own preference. Am I available and available in enough venues?

    …thanks for the teaching, Susan.

  6. Hey Susan,

    Great idea – getting customer feedback to figure out customer preferences is one smart (and easy) way of increasing customer retention.

    I’ve got another though – it’s post purchase service and evaluation.

    Simply put, you should be as concerned as what happens to your customer AFTER they have bought your product/service as you are before and during the buying process.

    There are lots of ways to do this – from having online groups for interaction, to providing a dedicated troubleshooting service if anything goes wrong.

    In fact Apple does this great, with their Apple Genius bars – which allows any apple product user to get in depth and detailed feedback on their products AFTER they have been bought.

    As a result, there are VERY few customers who are left unsatisfied, which is one of the main reasons why they drop out in the first place.

    • Hi Daryl,

      Excellent point about post purchase feedback as often at that point the customer is very engaged with the product or service. Apple is a great example and it doesn’t have to be complicated. Thanks for adding to the discussion.

  7. This has made me think about what I am currently doing as far as communicating with my blog subscribers. I provide different options much like everyone else. It does bod the question; what do they really want? I think a survey would be a great way to flush that information out. 🙂 Thought?

    • Do you mean written articles, podcasts etc Susan? If you are then I would suggest you think about what you can deliver and it isn’t time consuming or expensive for you. Can’t hurt to ask survey them and see.

      • That is a good question. I think both. I am working on doing a survey in the near future when I have a few more podcast under my belt. Some feed back has suggested that I get a better mic. I agree and have invested in a high quality mic. 🙂

        Another thing to consider is there is a very high readership for my wine and food posts. It’s kind of a mixed bag when it comes to who likes what. I think a survey would flush that out.

  8. Susan,
    I agree with the importance of gathering feedback to customize interaction with customers, but it seems to me that this approach will always be at odds with efforts to simplify your process. Also, the number of segments created to accommodate customer preference will become a greater challenge as your business scales. I’m wondering about how these two objectives–customization and simplification–can be reconciled.

    • I can see what you are saying Heather. I wouldn’t be recommending giving them a menu of options, but what the business can deliver and the type of business. I am suggesting this instead of assuming that they want one type of information or way. For example when I had a software business we gave 3 options and the majority preferred email and a certain type of information.

    • Gathering feedback is very important, but even that should be tailored to the current behavior a customer has with your business. Loyal customers should not get the same kind of survey as a customer who hasn’t been back in 12 months. Behavioral segmentation based on recency and frequency are an interesting way to at least get the timing of an outreach more appropriate. And then to scale customization of relevant email content, define it based on past product orders, or trends in what was ordered by other customers with similar behavior.

      • Hi Sandy and welcome to the blog. Agree with you about different surveys as you can get more actionable information. Your information regarding behavioural segmentation I am sure my readers will find very helpful.

  9. Susan: Feedback key, but I am amazed how so few companies really use survey tools and if they tod, actually make course corrections.

  10. I think you make a very good point here. Let the customer decide how they want to received communication from you. Respect their preferences and they will reward you with their business, in theory anyway. 🙂