When the economic winds are at your back, it’s easy to forget the importance of customer retention. But during economic downturns, it’s more important than ever to increase the loyalty – and visits – from the minority of customers who generate most of your profits.
[quote_left]The first step toward boosting “ideal customer” retention is to discover who your best customers are.[/quote_left] This may seem like a silly exercise. After all, you already know who your best customers are, right? Well, maybe not.
For one thing, the most visible and most frequent customers may not be your best customers – the real “high rollers.” In the credit card industry, for example, one cardholder may spend thousands of dollars more than another. But if the first customer pays his balances at the end of each month while the second carries over balances, the second customer might generate much higher profits.
Therefore, it’s important to track and analyze customer databases to learn who spends more and why. Create customer surveys on your website, points of sale and package inserts to learn what your best customers want and why.
Reward all customers for spending more through programs that offer discounts, coupons, gifts and other perks directly tied to spending habits. Note: there are lots of “me too” reward programs out there, so make sure that rewards match your customers’ desires.
Another way to improve customer loyalty is “surprise and delight.” Sending your ideal customers gift boxes containing specialty chocolates, fountain pens or other prized gifts can make a big impression. These unexpected surprises will delight the recipients, helping to keep your company name top of mind.
Finally, when you determine what your customers want in terms of new services and products, take action to make those dreams a reality. If high-end clients want to sip champagne while having their hair styled at your salon, make it happen. If customers want a 24-hour tech support number to help them install your high-tech product, get a service center operational ASAP.
During hard times, companies that consistently deliver the most value are the ones that continue to thrive while their competitors fall like dominos.
Do you have any customer retention programs in place?