Speaking directly from a customer’s point of view, I would say that it’s quite simple to gain customer loyalty. They have to receive the kind of value they paid for from the product or service.
Simply meet the expectations of customers the first time they avail for a product or service and you won’t have any difficulties selling to them again.
What poses as a real challenge is what comes before gaining their loyalty. And that is catching a customer’s interest and winning over their trust so that they will actually try the products or services that your business offers.
At some point, I’m sure all of us have experienced coming across a new product in a local store. Or perhaps one Saturday night, we stumbled upon a new restaurant that piqued our interest. Sometimes, these encounters had us thinking that maybe we should give it a try.
I myself had my fair share of these experiences. Some have left me quite disappointed while others really had me smiling from ear to ear out of sheer satisfaction. Obviously, the latter made me patronize certain products or services – a result we all know is every businessman’s dream.
Customers are the life blood of any business, right? Literally speaking, it is at the expense of every consumer that a business is able to attain success. To put it frankly, these big corporations wouldn’t get to where they are if it weren’t for the support of their customer.
Jump starting a business is a tedious process. Plus, the amount of competition present in today’s market is overwhelming. It’s a tough shot for new entrepreneurs now that almost everything has been invented or innovated. Especially if they want to venture on a business that’s already been marked by pioneering corporations.
I’m no entrepreneur and I’m also far from being a business guru, but I’ve worked close enough with all types of businessmen for me to learn a few important points about the marketing industry — two of which I will share in this blog.
First, it’s a tough battle. (Another obvious fact, I know. But you’ll understand later on why I felt the need to state this point.)
I find it amusing how, up until now, I can still clearly hear the voice of one of my foreign clients from my previous job exclaiming “It’s a *censored word* jungle out there!” during one of our meetings about their product’s publicity campaign.
Yes, it truly is a jungle with all the competing corporations clawing at each other’s throats in the hopes of winning over potential clients. From beginning to launching and sustaining a business, it’s not only money that is invested, but also time and effort.
Conceptualizing ideas that will sell already takes a lot of time. And note that just because something seems feasible doesn’t mean entrepreneurs will jump on the opportunity and start a business right away. A lot of factors come into play during the planning phase. Then comes the marketing stage that is equally nerve-racking.
Doing direct marketing is already quite difficult. And with today’s highly technological culture, a lot of businesses are also flocking the internet with the hopes of gaining new leads. If you think of it, doing direct and internet marketing already doubles up your expenses.
With internet marketing, you have to make sure you hire web developers that can come up with a good and functional website (that’s if your business still doesn’t have it’s own page) and then you have to seek the assistance of an SEO professional to get your website ranking on the SERPs.
All these efforts boil down to achieving that one objective that every company has: for their target market to avail their products and/or services. And this leads us to the second important knowledge I would like to partake.
It’s easier to retain current customers than to earn new ones.
Let me backtrack a bit. When I was fresh out of college, I worked for a PR firm as an Account Executive. I did a bit of writing as well. I managed a handful of clients belonging to different industries — from one major credit card corporation to fast food restaurants, designer handbags and expensive footwear. There were instances wherein a client would ask my immediate supervisor on how our proposed publicity campaign would help their company maintain good PR as well as earn new customers in the process.
This scenario happened quite often with one particular client (I won’t be disclosing the company name so I’ll refer to them as Client A) and it had my boss constantly fuming, “We’re a PR agency, not a Marketing firm!” It was clear that Client A wanted to make the most out of the campaigns we do even if their demands don’t exactly fall within the scope of our service.
Yes, publicity campaigns can be a way to attain new customers and our team understood where Client A was coming from. However, they were too caught up in earning new business that they fail to take care of existing ones. This really took a toll on their PR status as well as the number of new customers they acquired.
Client A is not the only company who has this “customer-acquisition-over-customer-retention” syndrome. A lot of corporations tend to focus too much on getting new customers that they completely disregard the value of the old ones and how these people can impact their businesses positively.
Let’s go back to the first important knowledge I mentioned — “It’s a tough battle.” Given fact. So why would you do this over and over again? Why would you create new marketing campaigns and spend a lot on ads, when there’s a much easier way to do things? Just take care of your current customers and everything else will follow.
Allow me to state three reasons why customer retention is more desirable than acquisition:
- It’s cheaper. – Marketing to existing customers reduces the money spent on ads.
- It’s more profitable. – Consumers that patronize certain products and/or services are known to spend more compared to a first-time customer.
- It’s faster. – If the expectations of new customers are properly met the first time they availed a product or a service it will be much easier and faster to sell to them again.
Now that we’ve answered the why of customer retention, let’s proceed to addressing its how aspect:
How can you retain your current customers and gain their loyalty?
Understand your customers and know what they value most about your products and/or services, then carefully evaluate how well you provide this value.
Notice how a lot of businesses are utilizing their Facebook company pages? It is because this is where the people (A.K.A potential customers) are. Engaging in a casual discussion with your customers through social media is the best way you can create a connection with them.
There are countless of tactics you can try to establish this relationship, but here are a few ways I can say is the most effective — coming from a customer’s point of view.
Shout out to your customers
When they post about your product/service on Facebook, IG or Twitter, don’t let this go unnoticed. I’m not only talking about positive feedbacks — acknowledge their complaints as well. This will show your customers that you truly care.
Recognize their advice and give credit to where it’s due
Your customers are the ones spending on the products/services you offer this is why keeping them satisfied and happy is of the highest importance. It’s your customers that can give you honest advice on specific points on where your product/service needs to improve. Always pay attention to what they have to say.
Strengthen all the aspects of your business that are working well for them and step up your game on the things that are making you fall behind.
Make them feel valued
Customers who stick to your brand is not easily earned. So when you do get a chance to win them over, show that you’re glad to have them. Having people who patronize your products and services is already a big gain for your business so make sure customer relationship is one of your top priorities.
One best way to express your gratitude to your loyal customers is by giving freebies and upgrades.
Be there when they need you
Good customer service is something that has always been a problem to several businesses. I can’t even count with both hands how many bad experiences I’ve had with regards to this. Never be one of those hard-to-reach businesses when a problem arises. Make sure that there is someone who can assist a customer in need. This can be your best shot at gaining a customer’s trust and loyalty.
Good communication and a healthy relationship with your customers is your business’s key to success. Yes, it can be a bit challenging to keep track of every single customer. However, this strategy can help you greatly in the long run.
As far as paid ads go, word-of-mouth advertising is something that shouldn’t be underestimated. The approval of your current customers holds a lot of weight than witty and interesting TV or radio ads.
Customer retention is more cost-effective that customer acquisition. Just keep your customers happy and satisfied and chances are, they’ll end up doing your marketing for you. It’s actually a big win-win situation for your business.