Your brand’s ability to grow hinges on your customer base–and it’s no secret that happy customers will keep coming back for more.
The real secret is how to keep them happy.
While some businesses systemically churn through new client leads, fulfilling minimal sales obligations before moving onto the next, it’s infinitely more efficient to invest your efforts into the clients you have already.
This is known as a client retention strategy and is a proven way to not only cut down on your business expenses but also to increase your revenue.
Today, we’ll discuss the advantages of increasing your client relationship investment and cover some strategies for doing so effectively.
Customer Relationship Building…You Mean Customer Service?
While customer service is a critical factor in customer retention strategies, they are two very different concepts.
To start, customer service is reactive: In other words, it is a strategy for responding to customers.
Typically, customer service is responsible for addressing inquiries, questions, or concerns from inbound customer communication.
Customer relationship building, on the other hand, is proactive: Rather than responding to clients, it is a strategy by which you implement a consistent means of initiating communication with customers yourself.
An example of this would be scheduling a recurring weekly call with your customers, to check in with them and see if there is any way your business may better assist them.
Another distinction is that customer service has a short-term goal of resolving a present issue while customer relationship building has the far-reaching goal of preserving and strengthening relationships by preemptively engaging clients with your business.
Effective customer service can leave a lasting impression on customers, but it is separate from a client retention strategy which is focused on the long-term benefits of maintaining relationships with your customer base.
How Does Client Relationship Building Help My Business?
Building on existing customer relationships is beneficial to your business in both the short and long term.
Short term, you will save a lot of money on customer acquisition.
According to a report from the Harvard Business Review, expenses associated with customer acquisition can be anywhere between 5 and 25 times more expensive than those associated with customer retention.
The same report says that increasing your return customer base by just 5% could yield between 25% and 95% more profit for your business.
And one more related statistic referenced by Forbes comes from the book Marketing Metrics: It finds that, “businesses have a 60% to 70% chance of selling to an existing customer while the probability of selling to a new prospect is only 5% to 20%.”
To summarize: Building customer relationships is not only more cost-effective but also more likely to increase your business’ revenue.
These statistics are telling…and they’re only the tip of the iceberg.
Thinking more long-term, customer relationship building ensures your business stays top of mind in the eyes of your customers when it comes time for them to make purchasing decisions, both now and into the future.
Moreover, by strengthening your relationship with your clients, you give them the opportunity to share honest feedback about your company: Using these insights allows you to make smarter and more strategic business decisions.
How Do I Maintain Relationships with My Customers?
By making it easy to contact and communicate with your business, your customers feel assured that they can rely on you, both now and in the future.
Think of the relationship between your business and your customers as a friendship.
From your experience, are you more likely to seek help from a friend you haven’t interacted with since elementary school or one you meet up with regularly and engage with frequently on social media?
Chances are, you’d say the latter.
The same applies to your business: When you put in the effort to consistently interact with customers, you establish yourself as a partner they can rely on, and you remind them that you’re there to help with their business needs.
Make Your Client Interactions Personal
By displaying empathy through your brand’s interactions and by engaging with your customers on an individual level, you make them feel appreciated and valued: This is hugely effective for preventing customer attrition.
Actually, the number one reason a customer will switch from one brand to a competitor has nothing to do with pricing, but everything to do with satisfaction.
A study conducted in 2008 by Dr. John Gattorna found that 68% of customers who left one company to go to a competitor did so due to a “perceived indifference” from their interactions with the business.
No one wants to feel like they’re just a number in the eyes of a corporation; instead, show your customers that they are each valued individually.
Address them by name and spend time talking about things that have nothing to do with business: These things may seem small, but they go a long way when it comes to converting your clients into loyal customers of your business.
Track Your Customer Interactions
To support your efforts in making customers feel more personally engaged with your business, invest in a system that helps you manage your interactions with them.
Something like a customer relationship management (CRM) software can be a huge help when you’re trying to keep track of a group of clients. These systems allow you to aggregate data such as outreach attempts, customer feedback, purchase history, and much more.
They also allow you to reference client-specific details. For example, those who have supported your business ongoingly can benefit from a customer loyalty program.
Through small efforts like this, you can ensure that your customers feel seen, appreciated and valued.
Strive to Turn Negative Experiences into Positive Ones
The way you handle an unhappy customer often says more about your business than the way you deal with happy ones.
Let’s look at one example of superior customer service: Zappos.
The online shoe retailer is renowned for its over-the-top efforts in customer satisfaction, cutting back on traditional marketing efforts in order to invest more in customer retention through stellar experiences.
In one specific instance, they even went so far as to issue a customer a full refund for a defective product alongside two replacement pairs of shoes–with the suggestion that the customer donate the extra pair to a charity of their choice.
While the upfront expense of these drastic measures is a bit more costly, Zappos enjoys a significant return on investment when customers–blown away by excellent experiences–take care of the marketing for them through word-of-mouth recommendations.
There’s a great lesson to be learned from businesses like this: By making every customer’s interaction with your business a positive one, success follows naturally.
Redirecting your business’ focus from growing your client roster to maintaining your current one is a sure-fire way to cut back on acquisition expenses, increase revenue, and boost your company’s reputation. All in all, it’s a win for everyone.
If administrative tasks are keeping you from engaging with customers fully, we’re here to help! FrankCrum is a professional employer organization that is dedicated to handling your HR tasks for you–-allowing you to spend more time strengthening your client relationships.
Contact us today to find out more about how FrankCrum is the partner your small business needs for success!