10 Best Customer Retention Strategies Proven to Increase Repeat Sales

10 strategies for retaining customers, keeping them happy and increasing their repeat purchases

by Rod Dunne on May 9, 2011

in Biz Dev, Entrepreneurial, Human Side

It’s so annoying! You put so much effort into sales lead generation and actually securing an initial sale from a customer and then end up losing their custom over the long-term. But this is something YOU can actually start to fix!

It is a fundamental part of business that you should always be looking at the best customer retention strategies for hanging onto your existing customers.

And with the advent of changing purchasing behavior, it becomes even more important to increase your online sales due to decreasing brand loyalty your customers have on the web.

Here I’ll show you ten of the best techniques to use.

  1. Welcome the complaints you receive. Your starting point for customer retention techniques is understanding why you’re losing your existing customers. Most lost customers don’t actually complain, and just simply walk away. Analyze those complaints that you do receive for trends in why you’re losing customer loyalty then make appropriate changes. Use appropriately written questions in customer satisfaction surveys to prompt customers for product & improved service ideas.
  2. Instigate loyalty programs. Provide your frequent customers with money-off coupons or other loyalty programs as part of a simple customer retention strategy. You benefit from plenty of repeat purchases and they spread the good word about the benefits of purchasing from your business. Use online business systems to track and monitor the conversion rates of these individual loyalty schemes.
  3. Send out questionnaires and surveys to existing customers. All the best customer retention strategies require constant feedback from the customer to establish what is working and what is not working. Surveys,  questionnaires and customer loyalty research are the perfect way of doing this. Incorporate special offers or gifts to encourage responses.
  4. Check for repeat sales often to instill your company’s brand. Your existing customer base will be more loyal as they make more purchases. Improve sales performance by providing newsletters and regular communications to make sure they’re informed of new product lines, offers, related products, etc.
  5. Reactivate dormant customers. Customers that purchased from you previously are more likely to come back and purchase more (just so long as they were not displeased by the service). Try contacting customers you haven’t heard from in a while to see if any of your current offers would interest them. Basic customer support/service training always emphasizes that holding onto existing customers is much easier than gaining new ones – so you should start treating former customers due to their greater potential.
  6. Have you scheduled a frequent communications plan to your customer base? Your communications are fundamental to any customer retention techniques. However, has to be planned out. You have to provide a strategy for how often you want to contact existing customers and decide upon what communication type should be used (e.g. e-mail, newsletters, etc.).
  7. Provide exceptional customer service. This one is easy! The better the service you provide, the more customers you’re going to retain, and the more loyal they will be. For online systems make sure you have enough customer service operatives and server performance monitoring tools to ensure customers have rapid access to your website and customer support teams.
  8. Make a good first impression. Have you heard the old maxim – first impressions last? Well it’s very true. The simplest customer retention strategy you can implement straightaway is to make sure that the first contact you make with customers is positive, easy and courteous. This applies whether you’re selling online, face-to-face or door-to-door.
  9. Make courtesy top priority with all customer-facing staff. You will surely lose customers rapidly if your staff are not courteous. Instigate training programs for all customer service staff in good communications, active listening and attentiveness to customer satisfaction. Make it part of their annual performance review too by using different types of performance appraisal methods. These customer retention strategies do cost money but pay off big-time with the amount of repeat purchases you receive. A side benefit is that more staff are more likely to enjoy their roles and be more professional and polite even with their own colleagues.
  10. Do regular reviews. Do you think that applying these customer retention strategies is a once off thing? You need to do regular reviews on a scheduled basis to establish if complaint rates are dropping, what the nature of complaints are, customer satisfaction levels (i.e. from questionnaires), etc. Always be looking to improve the level of satisfaction the customer is receiving.

Author Rod Dunne...

Blog owner and sole writer Rod DunneI am the owner and sole writer on Product-ivity.com. This is my personal blog detailing troubleshooting tips for small businesses. Posts are based upon 2 decades in consultancy & innovation management within startups/maturing companies.

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