How to Retain Customers in 2019

how to retain customers

Once upon a time, marketers viewed existing clients as the ultimate safe bet, slow-moving and low-maintenance. The fact is that every mobile-enabled client is fast-moving by definition. Attracting a new customer can cost 5 times more than keeping an existing customer, and according to a recent report from Gartner, 80 percent of your future profits will come from 20 percent of your existing customers, meaning customer retention is key.

When considering how to retain customers, view purchase history is the beginning, not the conclusion. To know how to retain customers, the mantra today has become connection, relevancy, authenticity, and intimacy. Below are tips to improve marketing efforts and buying experiences toward customer retention.

Know Your Customer

The Harvard Business Review suggests that staying relevant to a customers’ needs is key to developing the connection retention requires.

Often that connection is missing. Writing for Forbes, B2B strategist Larry Myler comments, “Here’s a worrisome statistic. According to a Bain & Company study, 60 to 80 percent of customers who describe themselves as satisfied do not go back to do more business with the company that initially satisfied them. How can that be? Often it’s due to a lack of connection.”

Businesses should strive to maintain relationships similar to those that their customer might have with a concierge, butler, or friend.

Consider That Your Product is Actually a Commodity

This may be especially hard for entrepreneurs to hear, but even quirky, personalized, vintage, deluxe, hand-crafted, limited edition, and celebrity-autographed products are now commodities in the global digital marketplace. The claim of uniqueness is no longer enough to retain customers since, with just a click or a swipe, mobile-enabled shoppers can find something else, somewhere else, that delights them equally or even more.

Here’s an example. If a shopper wants a hyper-personalized pillow with their pet’s photograph on it, home décor giant Lamps Plus offers several options for making custom-photo pillows, and will also place the image on a matching lampshade. Zazzle offers shoppers a virtual graphic design studio of myriad customizable pillow sizes, shapes, formatting templates, color palettes, typographic fonts, fabrications, and trims. Or, for bling-seekers, Mermaid Pillow will screen Fido’s portrait onto a field of shiny sequins that flip over into a different image when stroked in the opposite direction. And there are (plenty) more where those came from.

As a result, companies must emphasize other elements of their product to encourage excitement and drive retention.

Accept That Price is no Longer the Universal Tipping-Point

A decade ago, common business wisdom told us that saving money on the purchase was the way to ensure customers remained loyal. But according to PostFunnel, this is no longer an absolute.

Even if all four-ply cashmere sweaters are created equal, price tags are not always the make-or-break for customers. True, some customer decisions can be swayed purely on a bottom line. But the buying experience itself will often surpass price and product claims as the X-factor in how to retain customers

Show Your Customers They Aren’t Commodities

A sense of personal connection is the undeniable glue of 2019’s strongest customer-brand bond, and it is possible by ensuring customers don’t feel as if they too are simply interchangeable units of commerce.

Successful companies are always finding new ways to engage and delight the customer by anticipating their needs. Browsing and purchase histories are just the beginning. Intimate knowledge of the CX serves as a futurist roadmap, allowing businesses to do more than simply respond to known customer activity. Keeping a brand relevant to the customer requires connecting again and again, not only as follow-up to a purchase or in advance of a sale, but at anticipated key moments across the projected customer journey.

Previous models for customer re-engagement relied on automated contact — usually an email — with a database, and it’s time to rethink those robotics. This can include using auto-calendaring techniques for internal monitoring, but it’s vital to remember that customer contact now has to happen in real time, with a sense of intimacy, in order to seem relevant. It’s important to proactively ask meaningful questions about what customers are doing, thinking, and feeling.

Continue to use auto-calendaring techniques for internal monitoring, but remember that customer contact now has to happen in real time, with a sense of intimacy, in order to seem relevant. Proactively ask meaningful questions about what your customer is doing, thinking and feeling. For example, consider texting existing customers with an invitation to take a survey which is incentivized with a special offer. Go beyond the old-school discount, and present survey participants with insider intel like genuinely exclusive access to specific products, as well as preview pricing advantages. Then thank them for their participation with a handwritten note for an unexpected and intimate touch.

Make the Journey About the Customer, Not the Product

Conventional marketing typically focuses on product features and benefits, the classic tell and sell. This led to the lifetime of pitches we’ve all grown up hearing, promising whiter smiles, fluffier pancakes, friskier dogs, more secure investments. By contrast, today’s experience-centered branding is hard-wired into asking and listening to retain customers.

“Instead of telling our customers what we think they want, they now tell us exactly what they want, and how, when, and where they want it,” writes Brand Rencher, Adobe Executive Vice President and General Manager for Adobe’s Digital Marketing.

“And the theme that ties this all together isn’t the things we want, it’s the experiences we demand — the sum total of all of a customer’s interactions with a brand, from awareness to purchase to consumption, are now critical … so at each touch point, consumers feel uniquely understood and important. To do this right, brands need a holistic understanding of their customers, so they can wow them at every single interaction. This is where we’re all competing for the foreseeable future.”

The undeniable currency of 2019 is not price, and not product claims, but nuanced customer experience. The mantra: connection, relevancy, authenticity, intimacy. Capitalize on the customers you already have to earn their attention, their trust, and their loyalty. Future purchases are more likely when companies listen to customer desires and develop buying experiences and relationships they will appreciate — and later, come back for.

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