Attracting new customers (while important to do) requires an immense amount of effort and cost in marketing. In fact, it’s between 6-7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to retain one.
While many entrepreneurs focus on acquiring new customers, neglecting existing customers to focus on acquiring new ones is a mistake too many entrepreneurs make. It seems like a simple formula:
More marketing = more customers
More customers = more revenue.
Of course, it’s all relative to the size of your business, but if your aim is to grow your business and increase revenue, one of the first considerations should be to look toward your existing customer base – in repeat business, up selling, down selling and cross selling.
To help you do this, we’ve put together 15 tips:
Tip #1: Deliver what you promise
It might seem obvious, but when someone buys something from you, they’re trusting that they’ll receive more value from buying, than the pain they experience in parting with their money.
Put simply, if you haven’t met your customers expectations, you haven’t delivered on what you promised and the likelihood of them parting with their money again is slim. If your product or service promises to deliver something (whether that’s something you say explicitly, or imply), then it needs to do exactly that.
If you’re not sure if it does, then ask your customers. Get to know them and break down every component of their experience in your product/service to determine what’s working and what’s not. Are you aligned to your target market? Are you delivering what they would want?
Tip #2: Stand for something
I’m sure you’ve heard this before, but: If your market is everyone, your market is no-one. Trying to appeal to everyone stops you from being unique. It creates a bland, boring, and uninspiring business.
Make sure your business stands for something. Clearly define where your boundaries are, what you will and won’t do, who you do and don’t serve, and why.
People identify themselves as a type of person by saying what they are, and what they are not. By aligning your business with those that share the same values, you create a stronger connection, fitting in with your customers worldview.
If you fit in with their worldview, you move away from a practical, commodity like business to an emotional connection business like Apple, Nike or Coke.
Tip #3: Utilise social proof
Buying from someone you don’t know, or haven’t heard of has a great deal of uncertainty. How do you know if you’ll get what you pay for?
Social proof is a form of evidence to help people validate and feel certain about their purchase decision. An example of this is: “Join more than 21,000 subscribers”, or “Winner of 3 Golden awards”. Social proof is a fantastic way to market your business to new customers, but it can also be used to validate customers ongoing decisions to be a part of the crowd or identify themselves as a certain type of person (Apple are a classic example of this).
There are a couple of ways to use social proof:
- Volume If one person believes something to be true, it’s possible that it’s true. If one million people believe something to be true, chances are it is true. The more people you have to show someone your product is good, the more they’ll believe it to be.
- Key influencers Even more effective than using social proof in volume, is using it through key influencers. Everyone has someone they trust and respect. The more they trust and respect them, the more influence what that person says has on them. For example: Nike sponsors world-class athletes. They do this because they know that doing this influences the athletes fans. Sponsoring indirectly suggests that if it’s good enough for the athlete, it’s good enough for them.
Tip #4: Pay attention
“No one cares about how much you know, until they know how much you care”. This saying has stuck with me over the years, acting as a reminder to listen first. If you’re a financial planner and know ten different ways people can make more money, no one is going to care about what you can do for them unless it’s in line with what they want to achieve.
Be present with your customers, pay attention to what they really want (not necessarily what they say) and take the time to listen to them. After all, they’re the very reason you’re in business.
Tip #5: Reduce pain points and friction
I love the internet. I hate being on the phone to customer service about my internet. I represent a segment in the market that are willing to pay more for good customer service.
Reducing pain points and friction can apply to your business overall (who you target and what you offer), as well as the process to obtaining the outcome of the purchase. Reduce pain points or friction by offering things such as better customer service, express shipping, faster or easier purchasing.
Tip #6: Make it personal
Having a personalised experience makes a difference to customers. In a study from the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, researchers found that waiters that brought out mints twice, increased their tips by 21%.
Although a simple gesture, doing this made customers feel like they were treated personally. Implementing little gestures in an unexpected way such as remembering customers names, offering candles for birthday cakes, or remembering specific orders are great ways to make your customers feel special.
A lot of the time the sum of the parts is greater than the whole.
Tip #7: quality comes first
When it comes to speed and quality, quality almost always comes first. Gallup published a post explaining that quality customer service was nine times more likely to be fully engaged, versus speedy service, which was only six times more likely to be engaged.
Of course, if speed is the only thing you customers care about, then it takes a priority. However, in almost every other scenario, quality comes first.
Tip #8: Get to know your customers
Spending time with customers can seem like an expensive process, and in many cases it is, but effectively spending time with customers helps prevent them from feeling rushed or ignored.
This isn’t an open invitation to let customers waste your time, it’s a focus to understand your customers as a whole. Remembering their name, knowing what they like/dislike, what they’re interested in, what motivates them along with other relevant information about your customer will help them to feel appreciated and valued by your company, as well as direct your business.
Rather than just focussing on completing the request of customers, focus on completing the request and making them feel special in the process.
Tip #9: Make it consistent
If customers come to your restaurant for the first time and get friendly service, hot, delicious food, and enjoy a comfortable environment they’re likely to return. If they do return, and they’re then greeted with terrible service, cold, microwaved food and an uncomfortable environment, the experience has changed and this plants a seed of doubt in their mind as to whether they’ll get the same enjoyment and value they got out of their first experience.
While a couple of experiences may not sway their decision to go elsewhere (depending on the variance of experience), customers want to have a consistent experience of your product/service so they can know where to turn to when they want to get something and/or feel a certain way.
Tip #10: Company wide effort
No doubt you’ve been to a retail store with a brand you identify with, with products you love, but staff who are rude. You might be able to turn a blind eye to the rude staff because the brand and product outweigh dealing with the staff, but this inconsistency in the company brand does play a role in your overall experience.
Companies that keep their experience consistent across all areas achieve synergy that is unsurpassed.
Tip #11: Start a loyalty program
Loyalty programs are a great way to engage and increase the stickiness of your most valuable customers. There are always customers who will want more from your business than you currently offer. They’re so engaged with your brand that they wish you did more.
A loyalty program is a great way to reward loyal customers with exclusive offers or discounts, adding a sweetener to the experience of buying from you.
Tip #12: Reward your VIPs
Every business has customers that are a hassle, and others that are a dream. By creating a “VIP” segment of customers (whether you call it that or not), you’re able to focus your efforts on customers that spend the most and help your business grow.
This allows you to add more value to them, helping to make them feel special, which attracts more customers like them.
Tip #13: Label your customers
Labels are an interesting tool that can be used in either negative or positive ways. Labelling someone as ‘lazy’ obviously incites a negative response, but labelling customers as ‘awesome’, ‘happy’ or ‘unique’ on the other hand, is a great way to tell your customers you care about them. Just make sure you don’t label customers as something they don’t want ;)
Tip #14: Admit mistakes
Probably the single worst thing you can do as a business is to hide mistakes. It insults your customers and leads them to think you’re trying to fool them out of their money.
Making mistakes is a part of being human. It doesn’t feel great to do it, but if you take responsibility of your mistakes and correct the issues, your customers will understand and appreciate your honesty. Doing this shows that your priority is ensuring they’re happy and maintains the relationship they have with you.
Tip #15: Embrace change
Humans have a need for variety in their life, so it’s important to offer something new to customers to avoid your business from turning stale. You don’t have to continually change your product or service, but you should be continually thinking about how your business can evolve, grow and improve.
Getting comfortable in your business can breed complacency, leaving you at threat of competition who are keen to grow.
From the moment you get customers, you should be thinking about nurturing, listening and adding value to their lives. Get to know your target market, help them to get what they want and before you know it, you’ll soon have customers coming back for more.