Every customer is important to your company, whether they are big or small. Each and every one of them contributes to a thriving business and the more you have, the more word will spread of your business. So don’t neglect your past and current customers in favour of always trying to net the next big one. Here are just a handful of things to bear in mind when trying to ensure repeat business.
The first and most obvious step to getting repeat business is to follow-up with customers after they have bought your product or used your service. Depending on your type of business, it might not be viable to pick up the phone and call each and every customer to thank them, but if it is, do it. Thank them, ask them if everything went well or how they are getting on with the product, take feedback on how you will be able to serve them better the next time. If your product/service is one that allows it, offer to give them some follow-up assistance (a quick, personalised tutorial on the software they purchased from you, for example).
Don’t let them get the idea that your call is more about a survey for your own benefit - this is about them. Perhaps arrange to get in touch again further down the line to ensure they are still getting on well, and give them your direct line (even if this doesn’t mean a lot, assuming it isn’t the number pasted across every page of your website, it will seem like you are going the extra mile to ensure they are well taken care of).
The personal touch
One of the main considerations in many of our tips articles is using a personal touch with your customers, and this is certainly no exception. Don’t leave it at thanking them for their business and conducting the usual follow-up. Make them feel like they aren’t just one of many phone calls or visits that you’re making that day - make them feel as though you arrived at work and thought ‘I wonder how John Smith is getting on’, and picked up the phone.
Remember personal details. Asking how their child did at the Karate grading test can go a long way towards building the kind of rapport that will make your customers want to come back again and again. Knowing their date of birth is a valuable piece of information, as it allows you to wish them a happy Birthday, and perhaps even send them something, such as a discount on your products or services. This is a slightly old-fashioned way of encouraging repeat business, but for certain sectors where a more personal touch is appropriate, you can really score some extra points. Just be careful to maintain the expected level of professionalism as a misplaced familiarity could be off-putting to some customers.
If you come across information, perhaps about an event or organisation, etc., that might be of interest or benefit to a customer, let them know about it. This is the kind of thing that makes customers believe that you value them and not just their money.
A good customer service department or representative can be crucial. Make sure to be responsive when it comes to complaints, queries, and feedback, whether they come directly through your website or are posted on social media. In the latter case, you will want to take the discussion into private messages, but make sure to send them a public message to let them (and anyone else watching) know that you are addressing the situation.
These days, a business’s attitude on social media is particularly important. Not only is it an increasingly common way for customers to give feedback, but its very public nature means that your good, responsive customer service does not go unnoticed.
Modern technology has done a great deal to improve the ability of businesses to maintain good customer relationships. In particular, the growth of customer relationship management systems (CRM) has provided a way to make analysing and planning your customer engagements more straightforward and effective. These systems remove a large degree of human fallibility from your customer relationships, and can really improve your chances of encouraging repeat business.
Imagine you have bought a product from website A. Eventually it runs out, so you take to the internet to restock. You notice that website B is selling the same thing for a few pounds cheaper. On the other hand, website A is offering reward points for everything you buy from them, meaning come the next time you need to restock, you’ll get your product for half price. Which would you choose? Something like reward points certainly won’t work for all businesses, of course, but what can you do instead to make your business the most appealing?
Offer discounts, offer extras, offer something unique that will entice your customers to remain loyal to your business. Make your latest products or services available to repeat customers before they become available for the general public. Make it clear that you value their custom and want to give something back to them for it.
Of course, at the end of the day, nothing will net you repeat business like getting it right the first time.