5 Ways to Keep Customers for Life


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customers for life

According to statistics compiled by helpdesk software Help Scout:

  • 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they’re being treated.
  • In 2011, 70% of Americans said they were willing to spend more with companies providing excellent customer service.
  • The probability of selling to an existing customer is 60% to 70%; to a new prospect, 5% to 20%.
  • It takes a dozen positive experiences to make up for a single unresolved negative experience.

What these numbers point out is loud and clear: Customer service is a brand differentiator. Customers expect to be treated well and with respect. Fail on these and they’ll gladly take their business elsewhere.

Customer service success examples 

To hammer home that point, here are a few customer service success stories to derive inspiration from:


Just like Colgate is synonymous to toothpaste, Lego is synonymous to toy blocks. And Lego isn’t Lego without its horde of adoring fans from different age groups around the world. One reason Lego is hugely popular among kids and adults is its brand of customer service. In online forums, Lego customers have tons of good things to say about the company’s customer service team.

One remarkable Lego story that has gone viral some time ago is about a seven-year-old boy named Luka who lost a minifigure while out shopping with his dad. At his father’s suggestion, he emailed Lego customer service, hoping to get a replacement. A rep named Richard emailed him back and promised to replace what he lost and added in “something extra,” which included all of the minifigure’s weapons and a bad guy to fight.


When someone speaks about noteworthy customer service, it’s hard to leave Zappos’ commitment to customer service out of the narrative. Stories of Zappos’ amazing take on customer service run aplenty, but one that sticks out like a sore thumb is a record-breaking Zappos customer service call that lasted 10.5 hours.

What’s more astonishing is the call wasn’t specifically about a Zappos product but mainly about advice concerning relocating to Las Vegas.


Nordstrom’s approach to customer service is widely known in the retail space. According to a Shopify feature, Nordstrom excels at customer service for two reasons: attention to detail and employee empowerment.

One captivating Nordstrom customer service story is that of a rep driving all the way to the airport to return to a customer her bags, which she left in the store’s parking lot. Because the customer wasn’t picking up his call on the way there, he had the airport page her to let her know her bags were with him.

How to keep a customer for life

In business, you don’t want a one-time buyer. You want customers for life – customers willing to hand you their money to experience your product or service again and again. According to a Harvard Business Review article, acquiring a new customer is 5X to 25X more expensive than retaining an existing one. 

Know your product or service inside out.

How well do you know your products or services? Customers expect you to be the expert on your products or services. You can’t effectively market what you don’t know inside out. How do you present a product’s unique selling point if all you know it’s a razor?

People respond to enthusiasm, and often, enthusiasm stems from a deep knowledge of a product or service. Knowing your product well also includes knowing its limitations. Don’t position your product as the best in a particular aspect when it’s not. That’s false advertising and a huge no-no.

Know your customers.

Knowing your customers entails understanding their needs and what they find valuable.

  • Use every data at your fingertips. Market demographics and consumer buying patterns are a good starting point to knowing your customers and crafting communications that resonate with them. Other data points to explore include web analytics, channel preference data, offline and online profitability, and household composition.
  • Don’t ignore social data. Use Facebook insights and other social media analytics tools to your advantage. Constant interaction with existing and prospective customers via these platforms also allows you to gauge the overall sentiment towards your brand.
  • Understand customer triggers and act on them. When it comes to customer triggers, it pays to be proactive rather than reactive. One way to accomplish this is through predictive analytics where you use historical and current data to “predict” the customer’s future need. 

Honor your commitments.

When promises between two individuals are broken, there’s a chance that a sincere and heartfelt apology is all it takes to repair whatever has been damaged. But in the case of contract breaches, the price to pay can be as hefty as the reputation and financial strength of the erring party.

As a business grows in size, operations expand and more clients are won, which means more contractual obligations to honor. In such cases, contract management becomes vital in ensuring compliance and preventing possible financial losses.

As ContractWorks, a contract management solution provider, states in a blog post, “Regardless of whether a company has a designated contract management team or several of the leaders help oversee the company’s contracts,” a contract management solution “drastically facilitates the management process.”

Mind your manners.

Etiquette isn’t something you just observe at mealtime or in a social gathering. “Manners are becoming a lost art,” says Grant Cardone in an article on Entrepreneur. They can be perceived as old-fashioned, but manners can definitely get you far in the professional and business world.

How do you mind your manners when dealing with your customers?

  • Say “please,” “I’m sorry,” and “thank you.”
  • Be courteous and kind when communicating with customers.
  • Listen without interrupting.
  • Acknowledge that there is a problem and show your willingness to help them fix it.

Remember that even if your business offers top-notch products or services, customers won’t stay loyal if they have to deal with rude employees.

Ask for feedback and use those to better your offering.

Paul Brown of Forbes.com insists that turning one-time buyers into lifetime customers is dead simple: Ask them what they want and give it to them.

When asking for feedback, ensure you’re truly asking for it – meaning, you’ll use the feedback to improve your products or services, or uncover opportunities you haven’t yet considered.

Customer service isn’t always about doing extraordinary things for your customers, like in the case of Taco Bell freighting in almost a thousand pounds of beef to residents of Bethel, Alaska who’d been duped into believing they would soon have their own Taco Bell. Not every business has the financial capability to pull that off. In most cases, it’s the little things that make a difference.

Image credit: Pixabay

Maricel Rivera
Maricel Rivera is a research writer covering small business, technology, and online marketing. She has worked with various software startups including Comindware, Bitrix24, ZipBooks, and SafeSend. Her work can be found on various business and tech blogs such as Business.com, Business2Community, Tweak Your Biz, among others.


  1. Hi Maricel – this is an excellent list of recommendations, and I would encourage any company to endeavor to abide by them. They are convincing without the statistics. Or, I should say, especially without the statistics – because some of them are hard to grasp. For example, “It takes a dozen positive experiences to make up for a single unresolved negative experience.” I’m not sure what ‘make up for’ means, and if this was derived from a credible study, it seems an odd way to express a finding.

    The most peculiar claim I uncovered was from the embedded link to HelpScout, which presented this one:

    “For every customer who bothers to complain, 26 other customers remain silent.”

    My first question was, ‘how would anyone know to make that assertion?’ When I looked up HelpScout’s attribution for this quote, White House Office of Consumer Affairs, on the White House website, I got no results. The best I could find was that Richard Nixon established an Office of Consumer Affairs in the White House in 1971. But if such an office were active today, I would expect to see a link or a search result hit on the White House web page. Was it eliminated when Trump got into office? I don’t know.

    What I did discover was lots of marketing blogs and articles that referenced this same quote, providing the same attribution! Hmmm. The problem is that when it comes to pegging this statistic back to its source, there’s nothing to be found – which always makes me suspicious. Unfortunately, in the sales blogosphere, the practice of spreading questionable statistics is very common, which is why I’m taking the time to share my concerns here.

    Your recommendations are sensible. Here, I think “the numbers” mainly get in the way of your excellent points.


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