How to increase client retention is a question on the lips of every enterprising businessman/woman, and rightly so.
We live at a time when the business world is not friendly, in that every business ought to be on top of its game.
This is because there are lots of competitions to whatever field or industry of business you belong to.
Hence, it is not uncommon for customers to switch allegiance and patronage to other businesses.
This often occurs when a business or company no longer adds value to them.
For instance, maybe the quality of your product and services no longer meets their standards.
It could also be because your business does not appreciate or reward them as loyal customers.
It is not rocket science that the overall success of any business largely depends on the patronage of its customers.
Therefore, the importance of client retention to any business owner cannot be overemphasized.
How To Increase Client Retention
To fully explore this essential topic;
- Among other things, we will see who a client is and what client retention means.
- Also, we will look at certain factors that make it difficult for your business to retain clients.
- Furthermore, we will also consider the importance of client retention, or in other words, the advantages of working to retain clients.
- Finally, we’ll consider various strategies for increasing client retention as a business owner.
Now, let us get right into the points proper.
Who Is A Client?
Surely, we cannot talk about client retention without first defining who a client is.
A client is someone (a person or an organization) that receives or accepts professional services from another company/organization.
Sometimes, people mistake a customer with a client.
Although they are quite similar, there is still a clear difference between the two.
While a customer is also one who patronizes a business/company, this patronage could occasionally be.
Hence, such a person does not qualify to a client.
What differentiates a customer from a client is more about the frequency of patronage and the business relationship.
A client does not just see a business as a one-off business transaction partner.
Instead, as someone, he/she can even meet for professional advice and consultation.
This is why clients are very precious and should be treated as such.
What Is Client Retention?
Now having seen who a client is, the next question is what the term ‘client retention means.
Client retention refers to the strategies you put in place to ensure that a client keeps patronizing you.
That’s a simple and direct way to put it.
When you acquire a customer, that is the very first step in your journey with that customer.
Many businesses make the mistake of thinking that business is all about converting leads and acquiring customers.
However, much work needs to be done to ensure that such a customer progresses to the status of a client.
If you put in place the right customer retention programs and strategies, not only will you have loyal customers but brand ambassadors.
You can develop a deep, lasting customer relationship with them.
Thereby making it easy to retain them.
These, once satisfied, can go to any length to spread good reviews about your business to others.
However, it is worth mentioning that providing top products and services is not the only way to retain customers.
It is also important that you provide value for your clients.
Don’t be surprised that it is possible to provide the best products and services and retain customers.
This is because they do not see any value in what you offer for them and a business.
Additionally, when it comes to customer retention, meeting the expectations of customers is significant.
And when it comes to customers’ expectations, meeting them isn’t just enough to retain them.
You would also need to exceed those expectations.
When you do these, you are setting your business up for success.
Factors Affecting Increase in Customer Retention Rate
It displeases every business owner when a customer walks out of business.
Do you find that you lose customers constantly after all the efforts you put into customer acquisition and increasing client retention?
If yes, you are not alone.
Many businesses, even the ones who have been in the game for a long face this dilemma.
However, the good thing is that you do not have to remain in this deplorable state of losing customers.
Here are some factors that might be hindering your efforts in increasing the customer retention rate:
Low-Quality Products and Services
This is one of the major reasons why many businesses find it difficult to retain their customers.
Whichever way you look at it, no customer is willing to pay you for sub-par goods and/or services.
When a client goes into their purse/pocket and brings out money to patronize your business, it is because they want the best.
However, when you continually dish out products and services that are not up to touch quality-wise, you can only expect them to leave sooner or later.
Poor Customer Service/Experience
For many customers and clients, your customer service is the face of your business.
That cannot be far from the truth.
Whenever customers have questions, have inquiries, or have complaints about certain products, services, or features, the first point of contact is the customer care unit.
That means that before they even get to you, the business owner, they will first contact your customer service reps.
Therefore you must ask yourself what kind of customer service experience do you provide?
Are your customer care staff well-trained to handle customers’ queries and issues?
If you consistently provide clients with a bad or poor customer experience, experiences show that they will leave you like the bad business that you are.
Unfortunately, you might not even have the opportunity to explain or apologize but lose the customers outrightly.
Enough Value not Offered
While they are similar, quality products /services and offering value are not the same.
It is possible for a business to dish out top-quality products and services, and the clients still don’t perceive value from them.
The easiest way to know if you are offering value to your customers is to ask yourself;
- What problems do my clients/target audience encounter?
- How do my products/services address these problems?
- To what extent do my products and services solve these problems?
If you find out you are not really solving any problem, then that’s where the problem lies.
You might just not be offering enough value to the clients to make them stay with you.
Hence, it becomes difficult to retain such clients.
Another factor that consistently makes it difficult to increase client retention is being unreliable.
When you are not trustworthy and do not keep to the promises and assurances you give your customers, you are on the thin thread of losing them.
Therefore, if you find that your business is losing customers regularly, it might be time to sit back and recall what promises you made when you first got them onboard.
Have you kept those promises, or you’ve broken them?
If you find out you are not living up to the initial hype of your business, that might be the reason you are losing customers.
Inconsistency in Brand Identity and Recognition
People will want to stick with you and do business with you because they know you.
And the only way they can get to know you well is if you are consistent.
Put yourself in your clients’ shoes.
Imagine doing business with a company with more than one name, business color, website, and logo?
That is not even the problem.
Now imagine that while you are getting used to these obviously many identities, they switch things up again.
This is going to create doubts and distrust in your mind.
It could also be the beginning of the end of your relationship with that firm.
Now, that is exactly what happens when a business is inconsistent with its brand image or identity.
They run the risk of losing customers.
Nobody wants to be a friend with someone who is very rigid about everything and is not flexible.
Another reason why some businesses can’t retain customers is because of stringent rules and policies.
Don’t get it wrong.
Policies are significant for every business because it helps to protect you and direct employees and customers.
However, if you want to have a good relationship with your clients and retain them, it is important to have some flexibility with your policies.
This makes it mutually beneficial for you and your clients.
Little or no Customer Appreciation and Reward
We all want to be appreciated for the good things we do, and our clients/customers are not exempted.
If you want your clients to stay with you, you must appreciate them from time to time.
Methods for appreciation would usually range from phone calls to texts, emails, newsletters, visitations e.t.c.
Also, sending gifts to your loyal clients is not out of place.
When you do not show enough appreciation for these or lack a customer reward program, chances are you might begin to lose their patronage.
How To Increase Client Retention
So far, we have why it’s hard for your business to achieve client retention.
Now let’s consider some of the agelong tested and trusted strategies for increasing client retention.
At the end of this, you should be well equipped with the knowledge and strategies to retain clients.
Communicate With Customers Regularly
One of the most effective ways to keep a customer is maintaining regular and active communication with them.
A business that fails to communicate with its customers is opening the door for them to walk away.
Like the saying goes: “Out of sight is out of mind.”
Even though your business operates online and you do not always see your clients, the same principle still applies.
Schedule or even make a calendar and keep track of communication between you and your clients.
These communications can be done via phone calls, text messages, online chats, or regular newsletters.
This way, you show them how important they are, and they are more likely to stick with you.
Work On Building Solid Customer Relationships
This is very similar to the point mentioned above.
The reason being that maintaining active communication with your customers is an easy way to build relationships with them.
As a business owner interested in client retention, you do not treat those clients as just any other customer.
Interaction with such clients should transcend beyond regular business conversations but also personal concerns.
Endeavor to know them by their names, also know their special days and celebrate with them.
That way, your clients feel like family, and they are more likely to stick with you.
Get Regular Feedback
The last thing your clients want to feel is that their input or opinions relating to the business are not valued.
That is why you must implement a system that collects regular feedback from your customers.
Whatever step you take, no matter how little it seems, try to hear from your customers.
Also, it is not just enough to collect feedback, but it is also important to work on those suggestions.
Likewise, if for some reason you cannot do all they request immediately, let them understand that and promise to look at it when the time is right.
If you do that, your clients are more likely to feel a part of your business family and stay with you.
Provide Self-Help Services For Your Customers
The customer is king, and you have the responsibility of making him/her feel that way.
One way you do this is by not spoonfeeding them all the time, so to speak, but showing them how to feed themselves.
When possible, especially on the website, provide various self-help services for your customers.
These are available tools for them to explore whenever they have questions or need help with something.
The advantage is that even when you or some of your customer representatives are not available, the customer still gets things done.
He/she then feels proud and the loyalty increase, which in turn increase retention.
Work On Building Trust With Customers
Trust is essential if you retain your customers and have them on board for as long as your business exists.
At the single hint of doubt or mistrust, you can be sure they will jump ship.
Therefore, it is good to keep the promises you made to them and be honest and transparent in your dealings.
You should understand that trust doesn’t happen automatically, but rather it is built.
Hence, as a business, avoid the habits that break trust and keep those that foster trust.
In time, you will find that your customers trust you more, and you can retain them.
Stand Out Among The Competition
Why would I want to stay with your business if the next door does the same thing or even better?
Uniqueness is also essential when it comes to client retention.
Do not let the noise of the competition dampen your zeal or dim your light.
Whether it is launching new products, improving existing ones, or getting better personnel, the goal is always to stand out.
That way, before a client leaves you, he/she will realize that it is the wrong choice.
Improve Your Products/Services
This is where the feedback you collect from your clients comes in.
What do you do with them?
Do not just take feedback and then neglect them as though they do not exist.
Clients generally get tired of a particular product and/or service that is offered over and over again.
Whenever possible, it is good to tweak some things around the features of those products/services.
When you work hard to improve and get better, your clients see this; they’ll appreciate it and want to stay with you.
Offer Them Value
Closely related to the above but slightly different.
Value is what the client perceives he/she benefits from doing business with you.
So, while you work on better products and services, it is good to consider if they are valuable to the customers.
In other words, do they make their life easier and better in some way?
Only when they do will they continue spending their money with you.
As a result, increasing customer retention.
Do Not Forget Customer Rewards And Appreciation
The final strategy on how to increase client retention, which is definitely not the least, is customer appreciation and reward.
It goes without saying that we all want to feel appreciated for the things we do.
The clients who patronize our business deserve much appreciation.
It is also proper to have a customer reward program that gives back to them to appreciate their loyalty.
That way, you keep your clients happy and satisfied.
Overall, client satisfaction will definitely increase client retention.
Have A Top-Notch Customer Service System
As we learned above, one of the things that easily chase away customers is poor customer service.
Among other things you invest in, you must invest time, money, and effort into building a quality customer service department.
This would involve training your customer service team on the best approaches for handling customer complaints.
When you have a quality and well-trained customer service department, your clients are better served.
The result of that is client satisfaction, loyalty, and continuous patronage.
When you can put these strategies to work, the rewards are numerous.
These numerous rewards are why it’s important to work on increasing client retention in your business.
Let’s consider this.
Importance Or Benefits Of Increasing Client Retention
Looking at it on the surface, it might not be obvious how important client retention is to a business.
However, once we review the various benefits that come from increasing client retention, you will see why it deserves the time and effort your company invests in it.
Here are a few of the benefits that come from it:
Lower Cost of Customer Acquisition
The chances are high that you would spend most of your business cycle looking for customers to buy from you.
No one would blame you for that, as they are the bedrock of every business.
However, do you know that the cost of acquiring a new customer is way more than what it cost to retain an existing customer?
When you work on customer retention and resell to these existing clients, you are saving much-needed funds that would have been used for acquiring new customers.
These funds can then be diverted into other ventures that benefit the company.
Increase in Profit
When you work on retaining clients, you are increasing the profit margin of your business.
This is because you are spending less on marketing and acquiring new customers, as we noted above.
Therefore, you can save more and increase your profit.
Easy Marketing of New Products/Services
Experience has shown that it is much easier to market a new product to existing customers than new ones.
Therefore, if your business industry involves innovative products from time to time, you must take client retention seriously.
The reason why old customers are open to trying new products and services is not far-fetched.
With the length of time doing business with a firm comes trust and a solid customer relationship.
That means if you need to introduce something new to the market, you can easily pass it through these and get the needed reaction.
Increase in Referrals
One other benefit that comes with keeping old customers and retaining them is free referrals.
By the time a client becomes an integral part of your business through the relationship built, they become your unpaid marketer.
They not only patronize you regularly but use every opportunity they get to spread positive reviews about your business to others.
This will definitely save you cost in other areas of marketing as you are getting free marketing from these satisfied clients.
Receive Much-Needed Feedback
To help you better understand this point, let’s put it this way:
Who is more likely to give you an honest assessment about yourself, a new friend or an old-timer?
You would agree that there is a better chance at that with someone you’ve known for a long time.
The same thing applies in business.
When you build a close relationship with your clients and share mutual trust, you will receive the feedback your business really needs.
They will not mince words or sugarcoat when providing you with this feedback.
This will, in turn, give you a clear indication of what you need to work on with your business to serve them better.
Increases Productivity From Employees
One other group of persons you will be doing a great favor with when you increase client retention is your employees.
After spending years with some clients, your employees already know who they really are and their various personalities.
Therefore, it would be easier to relate to these and serve them better.
Even if some of these clients are rude or difficult to deal with, your employees would still serve them better because they know what to expect.
It now becomes the case of: “The devil you know is better than the angel you don’t.”
Of course, no customer is a ‘devil,’ either old or new, but the point remains that having customers who have stayed for long is good for business.
Conclusion On How To Increase Client Retention
Every day, businesses lose customers, either due to ignorance, negligence, or unforeseen occurrences.
While a client has the sole responsibility to decide who to do business with and not, some measures can be taken to ensure they choose you.
When many businesses struggle for a small customer size, you don’t have to be drowned in the struggle.
In all, with the right strategies implemented, you can say goodbye to losing customers and increasing client retention.