This article was written by Shelby Thomas and published by Crossroads Professional Coaching
If you want to keep your customers for life, here are 10 actionable steps you can take today that will earn trust and develop a long-term relationship.
After all, the ability for small businesses to build and maintain positive relationships with their customers is what enables them to push through difficult periods such as the current pandemic and resulting staff and supply crises that many of us are struggling with.
These powerful customer retention strategies will can help small businesses struggling with a revolving door of temporary or unhappy customers build thriving networks and unlock sustainable growth.
Let’s get started.
1. Treat Your Customers Like Your Own Business
The most important step in keeping customers for life is treating them like your own business.
This mindset will permeate everything you do for your customers. It is a requirement for creating a loyal base that looks to you as a partner with the same goals, rather than a transactional relationship.
Business owners want to do business with other people, not companies.
By developing trust that you care just as much about their success as your own, you are one step closer to keeping that customer for life.
2. Constantly Relate Your Product Back to Your Customer’s Goals
Yes, we all make wonderful products and widgets. But at the end of the day, our customer is not paying for a widget, a design, a website, they are paying for a solution to meet their business goals.
Here is an example of how NOT to talk about your product and how to direct the conversation instead.
We just released a new version of our SEO software that is going to help you rank higher on Google!
I understand you are wanting to reach more customers in your local area. Our new SEO solution helps target prospective customers in your area and drive more leads.
3. Communicate Frequently So They Remember You
I can’t tell you how many customers I have seen small businesses lose just because they were forgotten about.
This is low-hanging fruit.
Many businesses work so hard to get the sale, then once they have been paid, they do not stay in touch with the customer.
- Provide updates.
- Check in on performance.
- Schedule monthly video calls.
- Ask if there is anything else you can help with.
If you don’t do this, you’re more than likely going to hear something like, “What am I paying you for again?”
4. Sacrifice Extra Time Today for Long-Term Success
This is a controversial take. Should you eat costs to keep a long-term customer?
Well, it may depend on your unique situation, but I believe it is usually necessary to prove that you care just as much about their business as yours.
If you put in an extra couple of hours, could you help your client achieve a massive business goal that would mutually benefit your relationship?
This is not to say that you should plan to be unprofitable in the early stages of a new customer.
However, it is advisable that you commit to the customer’s success from the beginning, which does not always fit into a quote-and-invoice process.
5. Be Enthusiastic About Your Customer’s Business
I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to see a new lead or sale come in for one of our clients.
Not only does our team feed off this success and chase after it again, but we celebrate with the client.
The first thing I usually do after receiving a new lead for a client is email them and provide specific background information on that lead to encourage them as well.
This enthusiastic, interactive approach is worth more than an end-of-month report.
6. Prioritize Your Lifetime Customers
How do you keep customers for life? Make them feel like a lifetime customer.
We all love to be “wined-and-dined”, but there is something infinitely more valuable to a customer: solving their problems as a top priority.
Most of the time, the customer is too busy to handle the problem they are paying you to fix, or else they would do it themselves.
Solving those problems quickly helps build their trust that you are a reliable partner they can count on.
- If they need an extra social media post to go out, round up the team to complete it today rather than pencil it in next week.
- Call a vendor to check on an order the customer has been waiting on instead of simply emailing.
- Stay an extra hour work on a solution to a customer’s issue.
7. Ask for Feedback to Improve Your Service
Are you noticing a pattern yet?
Another way to treat your customer’s business like your own is to ask for feedback.
- Hi [Customer Name], I just wanted to check in on your order and see if you were satisfied with the delivery.
- Here are the results we are seeing. Is your team experiencing the same thing?
- Is there a way our service can meet your specific needs better in the future?
8. Help Promote Your Customer’s Products and Services
We see the sign or footer everywhere: “the best compliment you can give is a referral”.
If your customer is doing a good job, share it with your network or someone who may benefit from using their service.
Not only will this help develop trust and appreciation, but they may return the favor!
9. Follow Through on Your Promises
One of the reasons a prospective customer may not hire you, or choose to leave, is fear that you will not deliver on your promises.
A trustworthy partner is hard to find, and they may have been burned before by a previous company.
Get out in front of this from day one by always doing what you say you are going to do, when you say you are going to do it.
Once you have done this enough, your customer will begin to trust you with additional work because they know they can count on you to deliver.
On the other hand, overpromising and underdelivering, even on something small, can completely ruin your reputation with the customer, especially in the early stages of the relationship.
10. Match Your Business Values with Your Faith Values
There are hundreds of ways to keep customers for life, but we need have faith that working according to our Christian values will attract the right customers for our business.
Our goal through these retention strategies is to constantly serve our customers at the highest level with the sincere philosophy of treating their business the way we would ours.
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” – Colossians 3:23