Many agencies and businesses tend to focus on customer acquisition, stressing the importance of marketing and sales to find and entice customers to buy their product or service. However, these companies focus too much on that “final goal” of selling whatever they’re selling, and forget about the tremendous significance of customer retention – keeping current clients.
Customer retention is a hugely untapped source of revenue for many companies; a Forbes Insights study has found that less than a third of business executives consider retention a priority. If so many people have that attitude, it makes sense that a typical American business loses 15% of its customers each year.
Everyone emphasizes acquisition, yet recruiting new customers costs 5 times as much as retaining current ones, and it is 16 times as expensive to build a long-term business relationship with a new client than to maintain the loyalty of an existing customer. Many don’t know that the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70%, whereas the probability of selling to a new potential client is only 5-20%, according to ClickZ.
This is a huge difference in revenue, and it seems that many companies neglect the statistics and hone in on what seems to be the logical and clear step. Customer acquisition is important to growing any business, but retention is equally, if not more, important to a B2B company. After all, research done by Bain & Company has shown that increasing customer retention rates by 5% can increase profits by 25-95%.
Many business owners forget or don’t know these facts, and are thus losing customers all the time.
However, it’s never too late to implement some tried and true customer retention tactics to make sure your current customers come back for more.
1. An amazing onboarding experience
What many agencies seem to not realize, or at least not consider very deeply, is that the marketing doesn’t end with that decisive final sale of the product or service they offer. There’s so much more after that process that determines a customer’s loyalty and therefore their worth to the company.
The customer’s journey with you is just beginning, and it’s your job to make this a positive process. The journey begins with onboarding, and an ineffective onboarding could mean that a client signs on but quickly loses interest or realizes it’s too much effort to learn how to use the service, and drops off.
Whether the onboarding is in video form, a tutorial, or a direct conversation between the client and a company representative, you have to make sure the onboarding is clear, concise, and answers every single one of the client’s questions. They have to leave with the confidence that they can use your product or service, and if they need help, they can easily contact a skilled representative.
2. Benefits and discounts
Although this might not sound like a way to increase revenue, it can really help save a customer who might be tempted to leave because of better prices elsewhere. They may still enjoy your product or services, but cost can become an issue over time. Offering benefits and discounts, perhaps as a seasonal promotion or a thank you for longtime loyalty, can be a lucrative opportunity to entice existing customers.
For example Trello’s winter holiday promotion offered current clients the option to give any other users free Trello gold and receive gold back, giving them opportunities to get benefits and perks through their usage of this gold. This is a great example of a themed promotion that encourages interaction and helping other users, and thus obtaining something for yourself.
3. Chat or call system
This brings me to my next point: you need a system where clients can contact you at least during business hours, if not 24/7, where they can speak to someone who will answer their questions. It is really important to provide an opportunity like this to show the client that they are valued and respected, and that their concerns will be readily addressed should they have any. Implementing a service like this will make a customer trust you to look out for their needs and interests, and will showcase your dedication to customer service.
Intercom is a great example of a B2B company that is always ready to help clients with a simple chat system. They give you the option of searching their help center or starting a conversation with a representative. This makes it easy for a client to get the help they need, when they need it.
4. Courteous communication with customers
This is the crux of customer retention. According to Small Business Trends, 82 percent of consumers in the United States said they stopped doing business with a company due to a poor customer experience. Clearly, inadequate customer service is an issue affecting everyone, including B2B companies and agencies.
Effective communication with customers is of the utmost importance; you can ensure this by focusing solely on the customer when interacting with them. It will help to divert your attention from the sale or revenue, instead concentrating on the client’s problem and how you can resolve their issues. This is the only way to show your outstanding customer support and prove you truly care about the customer and that relationship, not just the benefit they bring to you.
Often, customers in either B2B or B2C industries will express their unhappiness with a product or service on social media, like Twitter. No matter who responds to the complaint – even if it is the billionaire CEO of an enormous company – they have an obligation to be sympathetic, polite, and try to resolve the customer’s issue.
5. Keeping track of customers’ interactions with the company
Your customers need to know that you value and respect them. 68% of all people leave a business because of “perceived indifference”. Keeping track of a customer’s interaction with the company, remembering details about them and their work, and maintaining regular personalized contact will help solidify the fact that you care about them. Doing these things will clearly demonstrate to the customer that you value their business and respect them as a client.
6. Feedback and learning from mistakes
It is crucial to get feedback from customers to see if they’re truly satisfied. Although negative feedback can hurt, it’s the only way you can improve your services and help retain unhappy customers. One way to get feedback is to send out surveys to customers after contact with the company. You can ask them to rate their experience and ask if there is anything you can do better, basically like asking for reviews but in a private channel.
Again, both B2B and B2C companies can ask for feedback from their customers. For example, AirBnB asks customers to take a survey after their vacation and explains that this will help them do better in the future. A pro tip for these kinds of requests is specifying how long it will take the customer to provide this feedback, like when AirBnB says “It’ll only take 3 minutes”.
7. Incentives if the customer wants to leave
If a customer wants to cancel their account, you should catch them before they do so and try to prove one last time that you value them and their business. You should offer them the opportunity to have their problem addressed immediately and by an expert – specifying the phone number or any necessary contact information. You can also offer discounts or other benefits if the customer chooses to stay and maintain their account with you as an incentive.
For example, when Amazon Prime customers try to cancel their membership, Amazon quickly offers them an incentive to stay. In this case, they offer to switch the customer to monthly payments, which could be more convenient for some and thus cause them to prolong their membership.
8. Social media
Companies are increasingly using social media for marketing purposes. Make sure you maintain a presence and post original and interesting content to engage your followers. People want to see a company that is active and appreciative of their customers, and it’s important that you share, comment, or thank people for sharing or responding to your posts.
9. Hosting events
To maintain your clientele, you have to keep them engaged. Therefore, it is a huge plus to host webinars or podcasts, exclusive to current customers. This will show them that you care about them and want to help them improve their businesses. There are endless topics to choose from for webinars, and events like this will be a bonus to customers who want to learn more about the industry from experienced and trusted sources.
Hubspot does a great job of providing resources to customers and anyone who needs them, in the form of webinars, ebooks, templates, courses, etc.
10. Monitoring and responding to reviews
Nowadays, virtually anything can be reviewed, even marketing agencies. Online reviews are essential for both client acquisition and retention, and you have to maintain a positive online review presence to be well-perceived by your current and potential customers. Online review management is increasingly more prevalent among companies that truly care about their clients and their business.
The bottom line of customer retention is that you need to keep your customer engaged, make sure they know they are valued, give them frequent opportunities to interact with you, and welcome feedback. If you use all the tips listed above, your client retention rates are bound to improve.
I’m the marketing coordinator for Shout About Us, I write these blog posts and also our email newsletters, and I post on our social media accounts. I’m passionate about lifelong learning, traveling, the beach, jigsaw puzzles, and fiction (especially Vonnegut)!