5 key ways to keep existing customers coming back

16th January, 2015

All Australians should intuitively know that a boomerang is unlikely to come back without the right preparation, tools, execution and experience. (I tried once… and no, it didn’t.)

But how often do we think about whether our customers will keep coming back and, more specifically, how we can ensure that they do?

A bird in the hand

Business owners and the self-employed often focus upon how they can find new clients without equivalent due consideration of how they can guarantee their existing customers return to use their services in the future.

One of the salient rules of the focused approach to business is to identify which strategies, product lines and key client types are delivering for you and helping you to achieve the results that you want, and then to double down on them. That is, to aim to do more of what works best, rather than trying to be all things to all people.

Finding ways to retain existing customers or securing repeat business is one of the most important facets of this business principle. Here are five ways you can help to guarantee that your customers of today will return to become your customers of tomorrow too.

READ: Six customer metrics you can’t afford to ignore

1. First impressions can be the most lasting

Psychologists affirm that we form a first impression of those we deal with which can influence the way in which we subsequently view them — even when it comes to professional relationships. While not indelible, first impressions can be critical.

How then can you create a winning first impression with your customers? Respond to enquiries promptly, and be smart, courteous and enthusiastic, without being overbearing.

It is essential to pay close attention to the requirements of your customer. Depending upon your propensity for retaining information, you may find that taking notes for future reference helps!

2. Reduce your customer’s pain points

How do you create value in a business? By solving problems for your customers.

A pain point is a real or perceived problem experienced by your potential customer or client. If your business can find ways to identify pain points with clarity — and then provide efficient solutions to them — you can add so much value to target customers that they use your services on a repeat basis.

You can also make your customer’s life easier through being easy to deal with and by concentrating on quality over speed in order to deliver the right service first time, every time.

3. Over deliver

To create value for yourself, first create value for others. Aim to go above and beyond expectations with your services to clients.

The law of reciprocity holds that positive actions can be met with further positive reactions, which is of particular relevance to sourcing repeat business from customers.

We are trained through life to return generous favours, and thus a client who has received an outstanding service from a small business or service provider will be more inclined to use the same business again in the future.

Providing an outstanding service that exceeds the everyday expectations is a classic example of a potential win-win outcome.

4. Be personable and be personal

One of the greatest advantages that a nimble small business has over its larger and more cumbersome competitors is that despite potentially having fewer resources available, it can give a more bespoke, tailored or personal service.

The biggest asset in a small business is its people, and frequently for very small business, it is the founder…you!

You should always be personable when dealing with your clients, but also consider how you can make your service more personal to your customers.

Why does a shopper go to the butcher instead of buying all of their food under the roof of one supermarket? Two reasons: firstly, to source a more refined quality of product, and secondly, to receive a superior calibre of personal service from a local tradesperson, and particularly one who is able to grasp and then fulfils the customer’s needs and inclinations.

An outstanding butcher will intuitively learn how to recognise what their customer’s requirements are both in terms of their favoured product and what type of shop experience will keep them coming back.

How can you build a rapport with your clients and learn more about their preferences? Through asking tactful open-ended ‘W’ questions: who? what? where? when?

Never underestimate the importance of knowing your customer, their wants and desires.

READ: 4 tips for managing customer expectations when demand is high

5. Aim for customer loyalty

The ideal, mutually beneficial outcome from a small business transaction is for your client to experience a distinguished level of service such that they in turn become a loyal customer.

You may also consider loyalty programs or offering a suitably pitched future discount to encourage your existing customers to return to use your business.

Consider that your existing customers can be your best point of referral to friends, family, business colleagues and others. How can you encourage customers to refer your services to others?

Finally, endeavour to remain in contact with your existing and previous clients at appropriate intervals.

Boomerang customers

A boomerang won’t come back without the right preparation, tools and execution and neither will your clients. Resolve to make every customer’s life easier by solving their pain points and providing a standard of bespoke service that induces customer loyalty.