How Small Businesses Can Ramp Up Customer Retention Even During a Pandemic

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Customer retention is a crucial, but often overlooked, aspect of any business strategy. Acquisition tends to get the lion’s share of your attention, mainly because it feels so good to watch your customer base growing, but while acquisition always matters, retention is fundamental to long-term success.

By now, it’s a truism that it costs 5-25x more to acquire a new customer than retain an old one. Every business advisor also quotes research by Bain & Co. that repeat customers spend more than new ones, and that a 5% increase in investment in an existing customer brings you a 95% increase in profit.

All these statistics are still true, and even more relevant during the COVID-19 economic downturn. Only 4.5% of US consumers say they will be both able and willing to spend money on consumption after lockdown ends. With customers tightening their belts, it’s vital to investigate some more retention strategies that can help your business thrive.

Build the Relationship

A relationship is everything when it comes to retention. The research found that customers prioritize trusted relationships over price, with 36.5% of shoppers saying that they’d stay loyal to their brand even if it means paying more for the same products. You’re far more likely to already have a relationship with your existing customers, so work on nurturing it.

Shoppers come back when they feel that they matter to your business, so beef up your communication through email and social media. It’s particularly important if you’re running an in-person service business which had to shut down for several weeks or months because of lockdown restrictions, or if some of your customers are shielding and won’t attend in-person appointments due to health fears. In these cases, you want to stay top of mind so that you’ll be the first place they come as soon as it’s safe to do so.

Use Discounts Strategically

Random discounts don’t bring back customers. You have to use special offers and discounts strategically to create customer loyalty, by sending customers appealing offers that they can’t refuse and incentivize them to buy more even during COVID-19. Business management apps like vcita allow you to build package deals and bundle together a number of services or products for a discounted price, such as 10 manicures for the price of 9, or an extra lawn care session free when they pay for 5 sessions.

Another good idea is to use packages to upsell more services and products after the customer’s first purchase. A one-off purchase doesn’t create a loyal customer; that buyer doesn’t feel any strong connection to your business, so they are liable to simply turn elsewhere if it’s more convenient for them.

But once somebody has made a number of transactions, it cements their loyalty. For example, offer a personal haircare advice session when they book their next cut and color. You can also use discounts to attract back lapsed customers with targeted offers, like adding a hot stone treatment to their next deep tissue massage.

Be Responsive

Customer complaints are never the end of the line. If you respond quickly and resolve their issue with respect and concern, you can turn a dissatisfied customer into a brand ambassador. This makes it important to reply swiftly to complaints, customer feedback, questions, reviews, and any time that someone mentions your business.

Use social media listening tools like Hootsuite, Sprout Social, or Mention to track whenever someone mentions your business, so you can reply immediately. Chatbots like Intercom help you to respond 24/7 as soon as someone asks a question, even if you’re asleep at the time. Additionally, use good old email automation platforms to set up automated campaigns that reply to certain email triggers round the clock.

Show You Care

Show your customers that you understand them by sending them personalized offers that are customized to their needs. You should already be segmenting customers into different groups so that you can send them more targeted emails; now it’s time to apply the same tactic to special offers.

Make your customers feel like more than just a number when you use vcita Packages to create different special offers for each of your audience segments. For example, you could send some of your clients a discount package for 10 yoga sessions, but another group hates yoga and would love 10 kickboxing sessions. It makes your customers feel like individuals, and it’s far more effective than sending generic offers for 10 discounted workout sessions.

Reward Loyalty

Loyalty should always be valued. Give your customers a pleasant surprise by including a personal note in their order or sending a code for a discount “just because.” Loyalty programs aren’t just for Starbucks, either; make your best customers feel special by inviting them to join your loyalty club. 59.5% of consumers said that they’d like to join the loyalty program of brands that they care about.
Think of perks that go beyond discounts, like giving them first access to new services or products.

You can use Packages as a loyalty tactic as well. For example, you could send a special offer of exclusive access to a personal one-on-one training session whenever they book 9 group sessions.

Customer Retention Should Be Front and Center

Keeping revenue going can be stressful at the best of times, but it’s even more worrying during an unpredictable pandemic. These uncertain times make it imperative that you focus on customer retention tactics to maximize customer value and retain them to make more purchases in the future. Nurturing your relationship with your customers with responsive communication, strategic discounts, personalized interactions, and rewards for loyalty is a smart business sense at any time.

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