This week we feature an article by Eddie Davis, VP of Business Development for FINSYNC. He offers tips on how to engage and maintain loyal customers.
Ensuring that your customers are satisfied and eager to return is the lifeblood of a growing business. Providing a quality product or service that exceeds expectations is only the beginning. Turning first-time customers into repeat patrons these days is all about communication.
Social media, online review portals, email and other forms of digital communications have torn down the walls that once separated customers from businesses. Customers no longer have to accept waiting on hold on a customer service line to ask questions. They can post the question publicly and get responses in minutes. More importantly, they can share their experience using a company’s offerings with the rest of the online world.
Rather than shun this reality, savvy businesses are leaning into the opportunities for more direct, instant exchanges with customers as a means to address their questions and concerns, and to glean valuable feedback that can inform their upcoming offerings.
Here are some strategies that can help you keep your existing customers satisfied and coming back:
Embrace Customer Feedback
It’s essential to establish tools and practices that encourage customers to provide continuous feedback. A way to do this is to set up easy lines of communication online and ensure that you respond to customers’ posts quickly.
Creating online surveys can be a powerful and inexpensive tool to gain feedback on a new product or service. Let’s say you’re going to make changes and want to make sure they’re working for your customers. Emailing an online survey or including it in a regular newsletter can yield valuable insights. And your customers will appreciate the opportunity to communicate how they feel directly, rather than having to go to an online review portal or social media.
With surveys, it’s wise to let customers post anonymously, which ensures they will provide honest answers. It’s that honest level of feedback that will ultimately help you improve your business and customer retention.
And speaking of social media, it’s essential to keep tabs on what’s being said about your company on the major sites, especially online review portals. Some customers may look for answers by posting on your own social media pages, which you should be able to easily spot and then provide a response to ensure they’re satisfied. But in many cases, customers will give feedback without directly messaging or linking to your company’s social media account.
It may seem daunting to track what anyone is saying about your company online, but there are tools that enable you to automate this task by seeking out when your company is mentioned.
Seeking out and monitoring customer feedback is only part of the customer retention equation. To close the loop on this effectively, you have to make it a priority to respond on a timely basis, even if it’s just to inform them that you’re working on their request. The goal is to make sure customers feel their concerns are being taken seriously.
It also pays to be proactive. Set up a regular schedule of outreach, whether via email or other forms of direct contact, to invite customers to share questions or concerns they may have before you roll out a new offering. This is also a good opportunity to pitch customers on this new product or service.
A customer loyalty program is another tried and true way of increasing customer retention, and digital communications technology has made this easier than ever.
Something as simple as discounts earned through points accumulated from previous purchases or even for filling out online surveys will serve as a tangible reward that your customers will come to appreciate and factor into their purchasing decisions.
And, let’s be honest, such programs are increasingly expected by customers.
A loyalty program will pay off in the end, because studies show it can cost five times more to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one. And according to one study, a 5% increase in customer retention can increase profit by more than 25%.
Offer Flexible Payment Options
Convenience, whether in the form of delivery options, product returns and exchanges, or customization, gives customers more reasons to stick with your business. The same principle applies to payment options.
Technology has led to many innovations in how we access our funds and pay for goods and services. Offering flexible payment options can make the difference between landing a customer or seeing them go elsewhere. This is especially the case with younger consumers, who have become accustomed to using apps to make purchases.
This doesn’t have to be expensive or onerous. Intuitive payment platforms make it easy for businesses to accept check, ACH, debit or credit card payments — even if you don’t have a merchant account set up.
Focusing on staying adaptable with payment methods, social media engagement and other forms of technology-driven outreach shows your customers that you’re keeping their needs and preferences in mind. And that goes a long way to ensuring they keep coming back.
Eddie Davis is the VP of Business Development for FINSYNC, a consolidated cash flow management platform focused on helping businesses grow. FINSYNC’s intuitive online tools help automate payments and accounting and provide valuable insight through cash flow analysis. The lending network gives businesses access to fast, affordable financing. Connect with Eddie on LinkedIn and follow @FINSYNC on Twitter.