How to use digital tools as part of your customer retention strategy
Every business has two main goals. The first is to attract new custom; generating new sales. The second is to encourage existing customers to come back for more.
There is no disputing that this first goal is important. After all, you can’t retain customers if they’ve never bought from you in the first place. However, even if common sense doesn't tell you so, numerous studies across almost all sectors point towards the idea that customer retention is essential to business success.
FACT ONE: On average it costs 5 times more to find a new retail customer than it does to retain an old one.
FACT TWO: according to a survey by SAS and Loyalty360, 68% of business comes from repeat customers.
FACT THREE: the chance of selling to an existing customer is 60%, whereas the chance of selling to a new customer is only 5%.
Add all of these stats together and what you have got is a need to strategise new and clever ways to retain customers; as their loyalty will prove less expensive and exhaustive - in the long run - than it will to acquire new clients.
This point is further proven by Brandongaille, who states that 12-15% of customers are loyal to a single retailer. On the face of it, this figure doesn't sound all that impressive. However, add into the equation, and following the Pareto principle, in some circumstances, this 15% of the customer base could represent around 55-70% of sales. Suddenly, this figure really matters.
So what can you do? How can you keep your customers coming back for more? There's a lot you can do, much of it simple, and you probably should be doing all of it.
Harness digital tools to assist with the following:
1. Reward high-potential customers
Repeat buyers are your VIP customers. Not only are they likely to refer others to your business through word of mouth – giving you free advertising – they will also bring more value.
- Cookies are a great way to gather data and analyse user behaviour. From tracking past purchases to reviewing previous searches; you can use this information and pair it with AI to build tailored, personalised email marketing campaigns that will entice them to buy again.
- Create customer portals and apps where high-potential customers are rewarded for using you, e.g. Meerkat Meals or supermarket loyalty cards.
- Re-engage your customers using marketing automation, e.g. weekly newsletters or SMS – the clever thing about automation is that you can assign it to handle time-consuming daily/routine messages automatically. Not only does this allow you to manage customer contacts and keep your customers up-to-date with your latest deals, events, services and brand; it will also enable you to communicate stronger and faster with past clients, helping to boost your conversion rates.
- Use CRM to build up a profile for existing and potential clients, which you can add to create a robust picture of each individual. With this knowledge, you will find it easier to spot high-value customers/services that you can offer them.
2. Be available 24/7
Being available 24/7 is a massive stepping stone to building customer loyalty, and encouraging them to buy again. This is because they know that you’ll always be around to answer their questions or take their complaints, any time of the day.
And complaints are not something you should ignore, as someone who complains is also willing to stay – if you prove yourself.
FACT: Around 70% of complaining customers will do business with you again.
So how can you make yourself readily available? Well, the best ways to tackle this is to:
- Create client portals - customers can log into these (outside of business hours) and retrieve basic information without having to reach out to your team.
- Harness social media channels – many customers prefer to communicate through social media because it is faster. Part of this stems from the impact social media can have on your reputation. Unlike word of mouth, one negative message can spread amongst a wider audience, so as a business, you need to be present and responsive. Customers like this accessibility and as such will choose to converse with you here, rather than picking up the phone or sending an email.
- Use Chatbots – these can be programmed to supply customers with the fundamentals of your business – a bit like a FAQ. With their help, you can support customer queries faster or use them to direct customers to the appropriate department.
- Create a system/single platform to track complaints from calls, emails, website, customer portal, etc. As we mentioned earlier, someone who complains can be convinced to come back, so you must create a CRM that can be accessed at any time and that will resolve issues efficiently, so customers don’t become further dissatisfied.
- Analyse ‘actions per engagement’ – measuring your customers' responses to call and outreach emails will help you to spot behaviour patterns which will influence how many times you need to engage via phone or email before they buy.
- Create an online communication calendar tool – this will help you to keep in touch with your customers regularly, which in turn will: remove purchase doubts; build trust, and make them feel valued.
TIP ONE: complaints are helpful in several ways:
- they can help you to identify defects in your products and services;
- they will help you to improve your business for the better, and;
- they will show you what customers care about/expect from your products.
TIP TWO: experts believe response times should fall between 10-20 minutes. It is quick enough to impress customers, but not so quick to be damaging to your brand.
3. Don’t be silent
FACT: Communicating with customers at least 10 times a year can boost your profits by 300%.
20% of customers are lost every year because businesses don’t build a relationship with them. Businesses fail to communicate and engage, and as a result, lose their customers because they become ‘forgotten’.
Digital tools can help you to remain front of mind, without you having to sacrifice too much of your time to make it happen. In fact, by harnessing automation, you can ensure that your voice never falls silent, and is instead heard regularly. This can range from sending weekly newsletters/emails containing advice and guidance on your latest products, to notify customers about special deals. These notes and messages will invariably boost your profits and keep you relevant with more of your customer base.
The great thing about automation is that once it is set up, it will do most of the work for you. Create email templates and program them to be released at set intervals, and you can keep your customers up-to-date about your business.
Likewise, you can use data to identify special moments in a customer’s life, i.e. their birthday and surprise them by making contact and sending them a personalised surprise/treat (again, through automation).
This surprise or act of thoughtfulness doesn’t have to be costly...
A simple handwritten note, for example, costs nothing to do, yet will instantly please your customers and make them feel valued; as in their eyes, you have taken the time to write it just for them. This kind of human touch can prove to be an incredible motivator for digital business, as they’ll want to reciprocate and show their own appreciation for this ‘out of the blue’ gift, e.g. by leaving a positive review or purchasing from you again.
Surprise offers also make customers feel as if they are part of something bigger, so aim to give these gifts, messages and discounts when they least expect it.
4. Make a good impression – exceed their expectations
FACT: 25% of businesses don’t meet customer expectations.
Customer expectations are higher than ever, so it is essential that you go above and beyond to become one of the 7% of businesses who manage to exceed expectations and make a positive impression. This means never making promises you cannot keep, but instead offering them a shopping experience that is tailored to their every whim and desire.
Take the following stats on what customers say makes an ideal customer experience:
- 47% cite fast response times to inquiries and complaints
- 47% also cite simple purchase processes
- 22% interaction across multiple channels
- 14% ability to interact 24/7
- 12% personalised experience
- 10% ongoing engagement
- 7% customised offers
Now, while a personalised experience may only be 12%, it should not be overlooked. If anything, if you make an effort to pair it with everything else on this list; you can increase your odds of retaining their custom. What's more, that 12% are most likely to become both evangelists for your brand, and repeat customers of your products and services.
You can adopt the following strategies:
- Offer virtual shopping experiences – AR and AI give shoppers the freedom to test out and review products before they buy; helping them to reach a decision faster. In turn, by offering them the support of a digital shopping assistant, you can save them time as they’ll have the advantage of being to borrow your expertise while being able to shop from the comfort of their own home.
- Provide personalised experiences around your digital spaces – data allows us to track customer behaviour and tailor our interactions to suit their needs. In doing so, you can offer them a personalised experience that is specific to them. This idea can range from showing them ‘related products’ following a product search to using automation to send them messages on exclusives offers that are specific to past purchases, e.g. send over a 20% discount off homeware after a recent trip where they brought a new dining set, cushions, etc. In other words, you can use data gathered from past visits and use it to shape their new shopping journey.
- Educational emails – these will help you to maintain a relationship even when they don’t actively want to purchase something. They’ll also provide them with good reasons to buy from you again because they’ll continue to be enlightened about your products and services.
5. Give it the personal touch
Automation has the capacity to free up human time so you can spend more time interacting with customers instead of completing manual tasks. And this added focus and attention (on your part) can make all the difference, as it will instantly make them feel valuable to your business. The fact that you have taken the time to recognise, communicate and give them your full attention, will prove that they aren’t another number or statistic in your eyes, but are someone that you respect.
Automate whatever routine and manual tasks that you can to make yourself as available as possible in the real world.
You don’t have to go to stupid lengths to give people this ‘personal touch’. Remember to tailor your responses/customise your content to their specific situation/needs, and regularly provide them with surprise gifts, discounts and notes - this will all help to build trust and encourage them to continue using your brand.
According to Concerto Marketing Group and Research Now Survey, 82% of customers will continue to use the same brand frequently if they trust them, while 83% will recommend your brand to others. This suggests the more they trust you, the more they’ll advertise your brand free of charge.
TIP ONE: use customer behaviour data to deliver enormous value in your product. This will ensure that customers trust, accept and listen to your recommendations.
TIP TWO: use reviews from authentic customers instead of traditional marketing to elicit trust.
TIP THREE: create customer forums where they can communicate with other satisfied customers and gain a greater sense of who you are. This will also help to build a sense of community and loyalty.
6. Spot when customers are about to leave
Like we said at the beginning of this article – it is harder, more expensive and more time consuming to attract new customers than it is to retain current ones. This means, now more than ever, you must pay attention to customer behaviour, so you can spot any that are thinking of leaving.
FACT: 20% of customers are lost by businesses annually due to a lack of a relationship.
TIP ONE: Algorithms and machine learning make this tracking process easier as they are designed to spot changes in user behaviour that signal they are at risk of leaving. A well-tailored and timely email, letter or call might be all it takes to bring a customer back to their happy place.
TIP TWO: 73% of customers love interacting with friendly staff that offer great advice. With that in mind, offer your customers multiple access points to your team, e.g. social media, customer platform, webchat, phone and email and if you're not there, make sure you've programmed your chatbots to be friendly and helpful too.
TIP THREE: 55% of customers want easy access to information and support. As such, you should ensure that people can retrieve basic information from their customer platform while offering them multiple contact points (such as the ones listed above). Do that and customers will feel more connected to your business and will be more likely to remain loyal.
Learning how to retain customers doesn’t have to be a hardship. In truth, with the right digital tools, you can stay connected to your customers and make your business the first place they turn to in their time of need.
And at Stunn we can help. Our team of professionals can help you to create a breadth of digital tools that will entice customers to pick you first time and time again. For more information on how to create a successful customer retention strategy, contact our team today.