The following article is a guest contribution.

There’s an old saying that goes something like this: “a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush”. This couldn’t be more true than when it comes to retaining your customers.

In fact, retaining a loyal customer following can cost up to 5 times less than recruiting a new one. On top of that, the average global value of a lost customer is believed to be around $240. It really doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, that’s a huge chunk of change you really don’t need to have to say goodbye to. 

In order to ensure that you not only attract new customers but also keep the ones you already have, hard work is required. You need to commence the relationship-building from the moment a first encounter is made and strive to maintain consistently great service throughout every touchpoint. 

To help jump-start your quest, below are some choice tips for creating loyal customers who adore your business and are likely to keep coming back for more.

Maintain frequent and meaningful communication 

Your goal is to both remain relevant and memorable to your customer. One of the best ways to achieve this top-of-the-mind awareness is through consistent and meaningful communication. 

You should already be actively collecting customer information. Now, you need to put this info to use. Free CRM software like HubSpot provides a fantastic opportunity to aggregate and manage client lists. This information can include addresses, emails, birthdates and so on. 

You can then use this as a means of delivering messages that are meaningful and tailored to their specific interests. For example, have you considered sending personalized birthday messages/card/loyalty discount? Do you want to give your competitors the chance to do this before you do? 

You should strive to be on their minds but avoid spamming inboxes with overly promotional content. Keeping communication light and recurring is key. 

Consider the infographic below, which shows that social media channels may also prove to be very handy in the battle of retaining customers. It’s chock full of useful advice, but if you only take one thing it should be to focus on the development of an engagement plan. 

Image Source: Business Coaches Sydney

A well thought out and consistent engagement strategy is guaranteed to be your one-way street to loyal advocates. Here’s an additional list of free social media tools you can consider arming yourself with to complement your efforts. 

Be sure to Follow-up 

In keeping with the communication theme, you should be actively following up with your customers after they’ve interacted with your business. You can ask them to rate the experiences they had, share discount coupons, thank them and check in on how they’re enjoying their new purchase, the sky’s the limit. 

When engaged in online shopping, you’ve also likely received increasingly common cart abandonment emails if you’ve left behind items in your virtual shopping cart. This is another great way to stay on the top of people’s minds and nudge them towards diving in. 

Encourage feedback 

Another trend that continues to gain traction is online reviews, which countless customers trust and rely heavily on. They’re increasingly thirsty for information and interested in having questions answered by previous customers before spending a cent. So capitalizing on your social proof is would be a smart move. 

Therefore, you should be actively trying to solicit online reviews from satisfied customers. Their ringing endorsements can add value to your image while also increasing consumer trust. So start prompting customers to leave reviews and provide feedback. 

Here’s a quick guide on how to use customer reviews to your business’ advantage. Supplying evidence of your business’ results is an excellent way to get rid of any lingering doubts.

Optimize customer service

Many companies are opting to automate business operations as much as possible. It’s a superb avenue to take if you want to reduce expenses in the long run. However, you always need to be careful when automating the customer service side of your business.

Most internet users have by now interacted with customer service automated bots. Getting predetermined responses to questions was at first seen as a major innovation and weight off. But the ability to talk to a human being who is polite, authentic and better able to comprehend the nuances of your issues or feedback still takes the cake. 

Automation in customer service can be a really great help when executed thoughtfully, but at the end of the day, humans tend to understand other humans better. So whether you’re a solopreneur or have a sizable support team, be sure to invest in some customer service training. Good Ps & Qs shouldn’t be undervalued.

The bottom line…

Once you cater to your customers and try your best to understand their needs, they’re likely to consider you a keeper. And since creating a customer is so much harder than retaining one, you want to do everything you can to keep them. Maintain a steady stream of communication, follow-up, ask for feedback and ensure that your customer service kills it.

About the Author

Uwe Dreissigacker is the founder of online invoicing software InvoiceBerry & also offers free invoice templates to businesses. Small businesses and sole traders can create, send and manage their invoices, quotes and credit notes with the tool. In his free time, Uwe travels the world and enjoys experiencing different cultures.