The Art of Retention

A basic business premise is that it’s easier and cheaper to run a business that is based on returning customers rather than constantly having to acquire new ones.

So how best can we ensure that we retain customers?

Firstly there are the basics, such as instilling great customer service skills in your sales team. We all think we offer it but how much time and effort do you put into finding out what your customers really think? Two ways to do this is to ask them to fill in an anonymous survey or even just pick up the phone to gain their feedback which provides a much more personal touch. Honest customer feedback will be the driving force of your business which will move it forward to become a success. These are the basic customer service measures that all businesses should implement, but it’s also essential to think outside the box and explore other ways to create and maintain customer loyalty.

A great example of a business that has got it right is Waitrose with its new scheme designed to encourage consumers to shop there. The supermarket is offering £5 off of a customer’s first order, £10 off the second, £15 off the third, £20 off the fourth and £50 off the fifth. Offering a discount scheme that isn’t a one-off will raise the probability that the customer is then hooked on the Waitrose shopping experience – a well thought out plan! Whilst this is not a full blown loyalty scheme, it is a great way of enticing repeat purchases and hopefully building a relationship with new customers.

Another great way of driving loyalty is using email as a communication tool to inform customers about what is going on with your business. Again, this might not be an obvious tool, but loyalty is partially driven by communication so do use email marketing to keep your customers informed. This will help to keep your business front of mind and when they come to consider their next purchase, you will be their first thought.

Lastly, if you can develop a loyalty scheme it will pay dividends in the long run. It doesn’t have to be a huge Tesco Clubcard style programme but something that rewards customers each time they use your business with a reciprocal gesture. In my opinion, this is how you can really incentivise customers and truly give something back to thank them for choosing you.

For more information about printed.com’s new Reward Programme, visit printed.com

By Nicholas Green, founder of printed.com

  • Crab Bucket

    Best way to get loyalty? Give service. Don’t just be cheapest – ask the customer what service he/she wants or has trouble obtaining, don’t just force down their throat what you think they ought to want, they tend to be quite different things. Don’t bombard them constantly with emails (the article is wrong, wrong WRONG!) cos they get up peoples noses. Don’t send an bloody questionnaire either – instant turn off. Write to them (you know, ink on paper, letter – remember?), talk to them (as in speech derrr). Communication is a two way thing – sending and email isn’t communicating if they don’t answer back, it’s just telling them that you can’t be bothered to talk to them.
    And more than anything else, if and when they do reply, listen to what they say especially if it isn’t what you expected to hear.

    It’s pronounced Bucket, by the way, not bucket, Bucket as ‘and spade’ or ‘theres a hole in my’. See the limitations of online? Perfectly sensible (!) conversation reduced to complete crap – and that’s what your client sees. No intonation, no expression. All he has to do is ignore it and it’s gone.

    Sorry, just though of the exception – Skype, I suppose that counts as online.

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