Customer Retention – Check Out These Simple, Effective Tips That Won’t Break Your Budget

It’s one thing to bring in new customers. But the easier, cost-effective way to really boost sales is active customer retention. Happy customers keep coming back all on their own. We’ve put together a few simple, inexpensive, and most of all effective methods, tips and tricks for you that’ll make your customers happy and keep them coming back for more.

1. It’s the small things that matter

A lot of times, it’s not the big things you do, but paying attention to the little details that gets you effective customer retention. Customers may not even know you’re doing it, but believe me, it’s going to make all the difference. Get to know your customers. Know that Ms. Smith always likes a cup of coffee with milk and sugar when she comes in for an appointment, and that Mr. Jones loves to talk about his cat. These things go a long way towards leaving the kind of impression you’re going for.

Make a note of all these details in your customer database, and use them as you take a few minutes to get ready for your customers before they come in. They’re going to love it when you’re giving them exactly what they want. They love feeling at home when they come to your business. That’s a key foundation for customer satisfaction.

2. Never take your customers for granted

Nobody’s saying you have to kowtow to your customers every time they walk through the door. It’s just important to never take them for granted. Always give them the sense that you’re happy to have them at your place of business. That’s not always the easiest thing, especially if they’re catching you on a bad day, or when you’re overbooked or up to your eyeballs in work. But there’s nothing that scares a customer away more than making them feel like you don’t want them there. Do that, and that’s the last time you’ll be seeing that customer. So even when it’s hard sometimes, always let customers feel like you’re happy to have them there.

3. Ask your customers for feedback

This is an easy one: If you want to know whether your customers are happy, just ask them.

Customer retention is first and foremost based on your customers being happy with your service. Then there’s the factor of how you make them feel. These are things you can control. If you’re wondering what you can do to make your business better, the simplest and best strategy to achieve this is to get feedback directly from your customers. And remember, “Was everything OK?” isn’t enough. It’s too vague, and most customers aren’t going to give you an honest answer if everything really wasn’t OK. But the good news is that there are in fact two ways to get real, constructive feedback.

  1. Honest questions get you honest answers. You might already know that your regular customers are typically willing to be open and honest with you. Ask them clear, specific questions. What can your business do better when it comes to improving your service, what you offer, and the atmosphere you provide in your salon, store or shop? If you ask your customers honest questions, there’s a good chance they’re going to give you their honest opinions back.
  2. Offer a platform where customers can provide feedback. This idea scares a lot of business owners at first, because they think they’re going to get bad ratings. But there’s really no need to worry. Lots of customers like to rate businesses – with both positive and negative feedbacks – but prefer to do it anonymously or at least not in person. Ratings on Yelp or Google can be very helpful when it comes to improving your service. Don’t let bad reviews get you down. Take them to heart. Yes, there’s going to be the occasional troll, but criticism is justified most of the time. Make the best of it. Take this criticism and try to make the right changes. Public rating platforms have another advantage: If you’re doing good work, you’re going to get good feedback. How’s that for effective advertising and getting new customers? Always keep in mind that successful customer retention goes hand-in-hand with new customer acquisition.

happy customers keep coming

4. Reward loyalty

Let me share something from my own experience. I’ve worn glasses since I was three. I’m blind as a bat without them, and on top of that, I’ve got a pretty complicated astigmatism. These things make my glasses and contact lenses very expensive. My parents bought my first glasses at the small optometrist in my home town. I stuck with that place even after I moved out to go to college. I thought I was doing something good by supporting this middle-class, local business. And I wasn’t going to be lured away by the (much) lower prices being offered by the big chains. But then I saw a chink in the armor.

There I was one day, paying for my new glasses and contact lenses. The bill was nearly 500 dollars, a pretty hefty amount for me. So when the lady at the register (the woman who ran the place) wanted to just slip the new glasses into an envelope, I asked:

“New glasses for 200 dollars, and I don’t even get a case to go with them?”

Her: “Uh, no. Yeah…uh…yeah, hold on for a second. Yeah, you get one.”

She then reached into a drawer below the register and pulled out the case that was clearly for the glasses I was buying.

That’s when it occurred to me. For more than 20 years, my parents, and then I, had been bringing this optometrist hundreds of dollars in business. And never once had they done anything nice for me in return. I wasn’t expecting some giant pat on the back, but how about a bottle of contact solution, a cloth for cleaning my glasses, or maybe a deal on my next set of glasses? That had never occurred to me up to that point. Now I was just disappointed.

So the whole point of the story is: Reward your customers for their loyalty. It doesn’t even have to be much, and yes, it depends on what they buy. But always show them that you’re happy to have them as a customer. Let me say it again: Regular customers bring the easiest sales to your business. You don’t have to do extra marketing to get them to come in, you already know what they want, and they’re a key foundation of your company’s success.

  • Set goals for your customers with things like “Every tenth treatment is on the house.”
  • Don’t be afraid to surprise your customers. Make a note in your database of how often a customer has come to your business. The tenth time they come in, make their day with a nice little gift.
  • Be generous with your extras. You don’t have to overdo it, but give your customers something on the house from time to time. If you’ve got Martha who’s been coming to your salon every six weeks for the past five years and who now wants to try out the new conditioner, tell her to kick back and relax, because “This one’s on us.”

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5. 100% on your game, all the time

This is all about “unconscious mistakes.” Nobody goes out of their way to do a bad job taking care of customers. But sometimes you’re distracted or just don’t have your head in the game. So keep your eye on the ball and take care of the customer you’ve got in front of you. Don’t get ahead of yourself. Push the other hundred things you have to do to the back of your mind. Give what you’re working on right now your full attention (this is also pretty good advice for life in general).

Does your phone keep ringing and pulling you away from what you’re doing? Online appointment scheduling can be a big help here. Customers can make an appointment at your business without having to get you on the phone. And the same goes for changing or cancelling appointments. You can stick to what you’re doing right now, and your customers take care of their appointments all by themselves. A win-win for everybody.

6. Keep in touch

Many of the ideas for customer retention addressed in this article can be effectively put into practice by sending out newsletters. Let your customers know about the special offers you’ve got going on, discounts, or the latest news at your business. Do things that get them making their next appointment. There’s software out there that gives you the chance to automatically send your customers a “Happy Birthday!” greeting, or remind them about their next appointment.

Many of the ideas for customer retention addressed in this article can be effectively put into practice by sending out newsletters. Let your customers know about the special offers you’ve got going on, discounts, or the latest news at your business. Do things that get them making their next appointment. There’s software out there that gives you the chance to automatically send your customers a “Happy Birthday!” greeting, or remind them about their next appointment.

There’s software out there that can help you with all of this.

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