5 Common Customer Retention Mistakes to Avoid (and How to Fix Them)
With customers now having access to endless choices, it's absolutely crucial that sales professionals understand how to keep their customers for the long haul.
According to a customer service report by InMoment, 23% of consumers say they aren’t loyal to specific brands or products — that’s nearly a quarter percent of consumers that could easily walk away from your company without giving it a second thought.
In other words, if you want to keep a customer, you have to give them a reason to stay.
In this post, we’ll cover the top 5 customer retention mistakes to avoid and how to fix them so you can be armed and ready to go.
What’s customer retention?
Simply put, customer retention is the ability to keep your customers for a set time (preferably a long time).
According to the Harvard Business Review, getting a new customer is anywhere from 5 to 25 times more expensive than keeping an existing one. With these drastic numbers in mind, it’s easy to see why businesses are focusing on nurturing their existing relationships.
Companies use various data analysis methods to measure how many customers are in a specific data range (i.e. college-educated women over the age of 25) are leaving in any given month — also called a churn rate.
Benefits of customer retention
Saving tons of money is a great reason to retain a customer, but there are other benefits to look forward to such as:
- Having raving fans spread your name
How many times have you purchased something because a friend or coworker recommended it to you? When your customers love you, they have a better reason to tell their friends about you.
- Getting the opportunity to ask for feedback
When you have long-term clients, you have a special chance to draw from their experiences — and since they’ve used your products or services for so long, their feedback will be invaluable.
- Getting some grace when you make a mistake
Customers typically aren’t happy when their purchase or customer experience doesn’t run smoothly, but loyal customers are more likely to forgive a mistake here or there due to brand loyalty. (Don’t take advantage of this of course.)
- Building relationships
Hitting sales goals can feel strenuous, but solid customer relationships make the experience more enjoyable for everyone involved. Another perk is building potential partnerships — you never know when a customer relationship can blossom into something more.
- Being able to try new things
When you have long-term customers, you have more wiggle room to try new things like marketing campaigns, products, IT services, and features — and since you're marketing to loyal customers, they won't be annoyed by it.
5 common customer retention mistakes to avoid (and how to fix them)
As we covered earlier, if you know what common customer retention mistakes to avoid and how to fix them, you can revolutionize the entire sales process from start to finish.
Here are the top five common retention mistakes:
- Not having an easy way for customers to contact you (and not responding appropriately)
- Not knowing your customer
- Not tailoring your content to your customer
- Not prioritizing customer engagement
- Not offering a free trial
In the next section, we'll explore each of these a bit further.
Not having an easy way for customers to contact you (and not responding appropriately)
If you don’t have an easy way for customers to contact you, get ready for a world of heat. Making yourself available to your clients is critical to keeping them around.
Make sure to present your brand, products, and services in a clean and simple way so customers can easily find what they’re looking for and can reach you easily.
Adding a phone number or a contact form (like this one from Systeme.io) is always a good idea:
When addressing customer questions or concerns, make sure to answer appropriately and promptly. The goal is to make sure the customer feels supported and taken care of — the last thing you want is for them to feel like you’re indifferent to their situation.
When structuring your reply, make sure to show empathy, care, concern, and provide a tailored solution that will not only solve their problem but will make them excited about doing business with you.
Here’s an example of how to reply:
“Hi Danielle, thank you so much for your message. I’m sorry to hear that you're having trouble setting up your dashboard widgets — that would frustrate me too. I’ll personally reach out to our trainer Craig to make sure he gives you a call to walk you through that step-by-step. When would be a good time to set that up?”
If you give your customers an easy way to contact you and respond promptly with care, empathy, and actionable solutions, you’ll be on your way to building long-lasting relationships with your customers.
Not knowing your customer
If you don't know your customer, you won't know what products and services to offer them, what their buying habits are, or what makes them love a company so much.
Here are a few questions to help you get to know your customer:
- Where do they live?
- What do they do for work?
- What free trials have they signed up for?
- What are their interests and passions?
- What do they search for?
- What are their buying habits?
- What problems are they trying to solve?
- What social media channels do they use?
To make this process easier and to save you loads of time, consider using a data collection service. A data collection service does all the heavy lifting for you, scouring the web for any kind of data that could help you get to know your customers better.
Another way is adding data collection buttons on your website, landing pages, social media profiles, posts, and stories.
For example, take a look at Wave Apps:
They’ve included two data collection buttons: a ‘create your free account’ button and a ‘sign up for free’ button. By clicking on one of those and registering with an email address, they’ll give you access to free invoice templates for your business (and they’ll be able to keep you in the know about their products, services, and updates and hopefully turn you into a satisfied customer).
Investing in a good landing page is also important for collecting customer data. For example, even though EarlyBird provides their service through a mobile app, their landing page is attractive, informative to customers, and allows them to collect customer data through two buttons, a ‘send link’ button and a ‘get started’ button:
Note about privacy: Many consumers are okay with data collection if it means having a more personalized experience, but it’s important to note that any form of data collection must be done so legally and ethically. With more privacy laws coming out, it’s important to know what to do (like adding an ‘accept cookies’ button to your website) so you don’t get in serious trouble.
Check with a legal advisor or check the latest data privacy laws for more information.
Not tailoring your content to your customer
In a recent study by Accenture, 91% of consumers are more likely to shop with brands that provide a personalized experience by remembering what they need and recommending relevant offers — and one of the best ways to do so is through content creation.
So how do you create personalized content?
First, consider your core values — what does your company stand for?
What’s your company's “why?”
Then, identify your buyer personas. What characteristics do your ideal customers have? What are they looking for? (Be sure to update your buyer personas as your customers change to make sure they’re still relevant.)
For instance, if your customers are small businesses searching for a professional employer organization (PEO) to outsource their HR needs, you’ll need to give them as much information as possible about finding the best PEO companies that meet their specific needs. And Quicksprout does exactly that:
This will position you as an expert in the subject matter you’re covering. This is crucial to building trust with your customers and increasing overall brand loyalty (not to mention providing insights like these could impact their lives for the better).
Other tips for posting content:
- Post consistently
- Aim to give as much actionable advice and value as possible
- Keep the focus on education, not sales (recommend relevant offers when appropriate)
- Share your content where your customers are (Instagram, Pinterest, etc.)
- Use SEO strategies (but don’t sacrifice quality)
- Consider outsourcing content specialists to help
- Format your posts so they’re easy to read (think bulleted lists, proper spacing, headers and subheaders, etc.)
- Include various visuals to break up text (also a good way to recommend products, services, and options that would benefit your customer without coming off too ‘salesy’)
Make sure to apply these strategies in any area where you have content: your website, landing pages, social media channels, email newsletters, etc.
Not prioritizing customer engagement
Now, more than ever, it’s important to find creative ways to stay engaged with your customers.
According to Statista, global spending on customer experience technology is predicted to reach over 640 billion by 2022.
Creating podcasts, filming videos, or leveraging various social media channels to stay connected are all examples of finding creative ways to engage your customers consistently.
Take a look at the brand Yoga Girl:
Rachel (aka Yoga Girl) and her team have recorded more than 200 podcast episodes averaging a 4.8 star rating and giving her audience a consistent episode to look forward to every Friday.
Yoga Girl covers topics her audience is interested in like self-care, yoga tips, and general well-being, occasionally featuring guest speakers on the show. Yoga Girl also connects with her audience on Instagram, growing a following of more than 2.1 million people.
With these kinds of engagement strategies, Yoga Girl will only continue to grow (and keep the majority of her existing customers in the process).
To help you choose what customer experience techniques to use, consider conducting a customer satisfaction survey to check in with your customers.
In your survey you can ask things like:
- What would you like us to come up with next?
- If we recorded a weekly podcast, would you listen?
- What kinds of posts do you prefer on Instagram? (i.e. behind the scenes reels)
- Where do you spend the majority of your time online?
- What kind of topics do you want us to cover on our blog?
- Would you like us to film live videos or host guest speakers?
Whatever techniques you choose, just make sure it’s in line with what your customers want and where they’re at.
Not offering to try your services
When it comes to retaining potential new customers, it’s crucial to give them plenty of options to try your products or services.
Think about real estate sales agents, they provide potential customers with free property videos, photos, and guided tours before ever making a sale (their customers know full well what they’re getting into and what to expect before signing the dotted line.)
When customers get the chance to test drive your offerings, they have the chance to see if your product or service is a good match for their needs, and you have the chance to prove to them that it is.
For example, take a look at Nylte, a DCIM software company:
Nlyte provides new customers with several options to try the product via product videos, demos, and free trials (customers can also easily contact them for more options).
With these types of options, customers can choose which one works best for them, or try them all to fully experience everything Nlyte has to offer.
Or if you are running a service business like True Blue, simply allowing website visitors to calculate an estimate of their needed coverage might just turn a lead into a customer. Check out how True Blue does this on their website:
If they’ve been scrolling through but still can’t decide, an exit pop up shows on the screen. Life insurance doesn’t have free trials or demo videos to offer, but it does give you the option to get free quotes without costing you anything.
Letting new customers try you out before asking them to pay is a winning strategy for retaining them long-term.
And there you have it! We’ve covered 5 common retention mistakes to avoid and how to fix them. Are you planning on using any of these tips?
Knowing your customers well will give you a competitive edge and increase your chances of retaining customers for years to come.
Brian J. Greenberg
aka The Salesman Who Doesn’t Sell, has founded businesses in e-commerce, marketing, and financial services. He has generated over 50 million in revenue from his businesses and collected over 10,000 reviews and testimonials from customers. Brian is the founder and president of True Blue Life Insurance, whose mission is to be transparent, honest and helpful to their customers without ever bugging or pushing them.
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