How To Improve Customer Retention For Your Small Business
If you are struggling to keep customers, or you simply want more customers, you are not alone. Many companies don’t know where to start in regards to customer retention for small businesses and learning how to keep customers interested in their products or services. Fortunately, there are some relatively simple measures almost any business owner can take to improve customer retention.
Customer retention for small businesses can be an uphill battle, but by understanding what consumers want and catering to their needs, you can retain a greater number of loyal customers. If you are interested in retaining more customers, the following tips may be able to help you.
Maintain a Blog
If you want to know how to keep customers coming back, really think about starting a blog. Blogging is one of the leading customer retention strategies because it offers useful information to customers, builds loyalty and keeps people coming back for more. Blogging can be beneficial in the following ways:
- It can show customers you want to provide something else of value besides just your goods or services.
- A blog can keep customers informed about the state of your business or organization.
- Offering stories of customers’ positive interactions with your business can attract other customers and ensure your current ones remain loyal.
- A blog can direct customers to your website where they can learn more about your products or services or your company in general.
Maintaining a blog can be difficult, but when you provide potential customers with relevant information, they are more likely to do business with you. Additionally, consistent blogging has been proven to increase lead generation:
Hubspot did a study that not only proved that blogging leads to lead generation but also that the more blogging you do, the more your lead generation compounds over time. With statistics like this, it’s worth spending some of your marketing budget on blogging.
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Utilize a Customer Feedback Loop
It can be tremendously difficult to improve the state of your business or organization if you don’t know how your customers feel about it. If you really want to retain customers, you should consider obtaining and utilizing customer feedback and sharing your findings with your organization. Taking advantage of customer feedback can be relatively simple when you use a customer feedback loop. A customer feedback loop is a system of collecting, analyzing, and distributing customer surveys and reviews.
There are multiple ways to collect customer feedback. The easiest and most common method involves distributing surveys so you can ask customers questions about their experiences with your business. A survey alone can provide you and your team with a considerable amount of customer feedback.
Once you’ve collected all your surveys, you will need to analyze the results by examining behavioral trends and other areas to improve user experience. Once you are aware of any relevant trends, share the information with the rest of your team. For example, reviews of products should be shared with your development team or engineers so they can decide if a product needs to be changed in any way.
Adopt a Customer Communication Calendar
Even if you are having difficulty obtaining feedback from your customers via surveys, your business should still be communicating with them. If you have customers who haven’t interacted with your business in a while, you may want to get in contact with them and reestablish a relationship. To do this, adopt a communication calendar that keeps track of all your customer engagements. This calendar will help you figure out who to cross-sell and upsell to.
Most communication calendars are charts that simply keep track of customer communications. It can alert you when current customers have not interacted with your company and tell you when the last time a customer got in touch with you. With such information on your side, you can effectively launch promotional offers and provide proactive customer service. For example, if a customer’s subscription expires in a few weeks, you can send them a detailed email letting them know they need to renew it.
Start a Customer Education Program
Have you considered starting a customer education program to improve customer retention for your small business? If you haven’t, you should know it is a great way to showcase your investment in your customer base over the long term. Starting a customer education program doesn’t have to be difficult, you can simply create various customer self-service features like a community forum or knowledge base. Customers can use these tools to find solutions to their service problems before having to reach out to your support team.
Your program can also go beyond basic products and services. For example, your company can offer relevant courses covering a variety of topics. By offering these courses, you can ensure your customers know how to use your products or services in everyday life.
There are two important facts you should know when attempting to foster trust between your company and customers:
- It takes time to build trust.
- Just because someone buys from you, it doesn’t mean they trust you.
When deciding whether to purchase a product or service, the vast majority of customers will take whether they trust a company into consideration. In other words, people don’t want to buy from an untrustworthy company. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to building trust, but to get started, you will need to be sure your products or services are reliable and consistent. Following through on your brand’s promises is also important when establishing trust.
Be Open and Transparent
Virtually everyone prefers to interact with people who are open and honest. This desire for transparency even extends to business interactions. Ideally, your clients want to buy from a company that sets realistic expectations and strives to exceed them regularly. If you don’t live up to your expectations, take the steps to make it right and own your mistake. Contrary to popular belief, consumers prefer to deal with businesses that own their mistakes as opposed to businesses that promise perfection but do not make amends when they mess up.
If you are doing good for your customers, don’t hesitate to emphasize it. If you don’t, most of your customers will never know about it. For example, many businesses regularly have sales. When a customer receives a receipt from their purchase, the business highlights how much money they saved. In other words, the store underscores the fact that they are helping customers save money.
Show How You Can Help
It may be difficult to do this when your company is first starting out, however, as your company expands and your customer base grows, you can begin to announce your efforts. When customers see you are making regular improvements that may be beneficial to them, they are more likely to come back. Ideally, you will want to sound concerned, not like you are only interested in getting your customers’ dollars. To avoid sounding like you are promoting your business, take note of the following tips:
- Emphasize benefits: When interacting with customers, clearly explain the benefits you provide. Avoid assuming these benefits are obvious and use the opportunity to communicate why you are helping customers.
- Choose the right channel of communication: This may be self-explanatory, but choosing the right communication channel is important. You may want to utilize an email, or if you prefer face-to-face interaction, it may be wise to announce your intentions during a meeting.
Always show your customer you are willing to help them and go the extra mile.
Set Clear Expectations
A key component of improving customer retention rates is to make sure your customers understand what they can expect from your company, such as your returns policy. Customers prefer to patronize businesses that clearly outline what they will and won’t do, but they can be unforgiving if you fail to meet their expectations. For example, a company that offers free shipping on products over $35 should make this clear on its website to avoid any confusion. If a business fails to advertise this fact, customers may choose lower-priced products and become frustrated when they have to pay full shipping costs.
There are easy ways to ensure customers have a firm understanding of your expectations. First of all, you should set expectations early on in the customer-business relationship. This will prevent them from making any incorrect assumptions and becoming angry later. Secondly, you should set expectations that truly matter to your clients, such as specifying how you handle refunds and returns. If you are unsure of what matters to your clients, don’t hesitate to ask them.
Launch a Customer Loyalty Program
If you are like most businesses, you value your most loyal customers. Loyal customers are the driving force behind the success of any business, so ideally, you will want to ensure they remain staunch supporters of your business. To do this, it may be in your best interest to create a loyalty program to retain customers. An effective loyalty program will reward your customers for bringing you their business and encourage them to choose your company over any potential competitors.
Airlines frequently employ loyalty programs. By offering clients who often fly with them frequent flier miles, they can ensure their customers choose their airline over others. Some companies offer customers points they can use to obtain free items or discounts. No matter how you choose to reward loyal customers, just remember to offer them something they will value.
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