Lead generation is one of the most important components of any company’s marketing plan. Conducting research to find more customers and target new audiences not only keeps the business afloat, but can also push it to new heights — when done properly, of course.
But every time you convert a new client, the fresh customer-company relationship shouldn’t be one with a time limit; it shouldn’t end once the deal is done. Because an equally important component of any marketing plan is customer retention, and turning a one-time purchaser into a repeat customer. With the right approach, the people who were once skeptical to try your product can become your biggest brand ambassadors and bring in endless referral traffic.
We asked members of the Young Entrepreneur Council (YEC), an invitation only nonprofit organization comprised of the country’s most promising young entrepreneurs, the following question to find out what their secrets to retaining their clients:
“What’s your best tip for increasing customer loyalty?”
Here’s what YEC community members had to say:
1. Always Over Deliver
“First and foremost, meet the needs of the customer, then take it up a notch and over deliver. Whether you provide deliverables ahead of schedule, throw in bonuses or surprise and delight with cool new features, continue to give more.” ~ Kelly Azevedo, She’s Got Systems
2. Ridiculously Good Customer Service
“To quote a recent customer email, “I really appreciate your thoughtful and professional response. I don’t get that a lot from customer service. Usually, it’s scripted nonsense that makes it seem like I’ve done something wrong. You’ve single-handedly improved my perception tenfold. Someone there ought to give you a pay raise.” ~ Matt Mickiewicz, 99designs
3. Treat ‘Em As You Would Want to Be
“Empower your employees to help customers the way they would want to be helped. Ditch scripts and “company policy” in favor of dialogue and intuitive problem solving. Customers want to be treated like human beings, not sales figures.” ~ Vanessa Nornberg, Metal Mafia
4. Try Genuine Transparency
“If you screw up, be willing to openly acknowledge it and take responsibility for it. Always be real with people, and cut out the “robot act.” Show a genuine desire to improve, even if you’re already doing a good or great job in servicing them. Customers really appreciate that sort of interaction, especially when you show you understand them and actually give a darn.” ~ Matthew Ackerson, PetoVera
5. Love Them and Thank Them
“As Gary Vaynerchuk says in his book, The Thank You Economy, you need to “shock and awe” your best customers. This means actually giving a crap and rewarding them for no particular reason with thoughtful gifts. I agree 100 percent. Are you telling me the best you can do is an automated Happy Birthday email?” ~ Patrick Curtis, WallStreetOasis.com
6. Customer Loyalty Works Both Ways
“If you want customers to be loyal to you, don’t forget to be loyal to them. Focus on your core, die-hard clients. The fringe customers will come and go, but your core will stick with you through the good times and bad. Keep those customers happy at all cost. Customers reward loyalty with loyalty.” ~ Nick Friedman, College Hunks Hauling Junk
Check out more tips and business from successful entrepreneurs here.