4 Ways to Engage Customers for Better Retention

It’s one thing to make a sale once. The trick is to keep customers coming back and buying from you again and again. The secret to repeat business?

Customer engagement.

It’s a nebulous thing, and not always easy to achieve, but with a little effort, you can keep your customers interested in your brand and buying from you for years.

First, Get to Know Them. Really.

Every article about customer retention and sales will say “get to know your customers.” But this isn’t a quick skim of the surface of who your customers are. It’s a deep dive into knowing each one individually.

Sounds time-consuming, doesn’t it? It doesn’t have to be with the right technology. There are cookies that track a shopper’s behavior on your site (how long did she stay on this product page? Which site led her to yours?). Web analytics to help you understand what pages are the most popular on your site. Email analytics that tell you who opened your email and who clicked.

Where can you house all this wonderful data? Your customer relationship management platform. Each customer gets her own profile, and you can populate it with all the goodness that you’ve learned about her so that you can customize your marketing message and offers to an audience of one.

Again, sounds complicated, but it’s not. When you can go beyond segment interests like “women’s clothing” and “t-shirts,” you can dive into finding the niche of customers who come to your site to buy “graphic tank tops.” Applying this label to these customers, you can then create a special offer just for them that isn’t for jeans or shoes. It’s for exactly what they want from you.

Be Active on Social

Many brands make the mistake of simply amplifying marketing messages on social media, and they don’t engage in actual conversation. That’s a shame because that’s where the engagement happens. Your customers may ask questions on Facebook or rave about your product on Instagram. They may even complain about it on Twitter. Each of these is an opportunity for you to interact with your customers and prove that you’re more than just a company. You’re listening, and you care.

As part of your daily social media activities, monitor comments and direct messages and respond promptly. Even if someone isn’t talking to you directly, if an opportunity arises to get in on a relevant conversation, do so. For example: if someone is asking where to eat in the city where you have a restaurant, jump in and offer them a free dessert if they dine with you.

Ask How You Could Do Better

Often, you don’t hear from your customers unless there’s a problem. But it can be worthwhile to reach out after a sale (or even if it’s been a while since they purchased from you) to see how the experience went. Even if a customer didn’t walk away disgruntled, she may have a few pointers for what would make her happier.

You can do this with a simple survey, like through Survey Monkey or similar survey tool, especially if you have hundreds or thousands of customers, but if you have relatively few, a personal email might be better. You want to facilitate a conversation, and an email blasted to thousands of people won’t get that result.

Then the key is actually acting on your customers’ feedback! If you’re hearing again and again that your customer support line takes far too long to answer calls, hire more reps. If you’re hearing that a local store is often out of stock, make sure the manager orders enough inventory. Customers, sadly, don’t often expect brands to listen to their suggestions, so yours will be blown away when you let them know you’ve fixed the problem.

Give Them a Reason to Be Loyal

Loyalty programs are a great way to drive repeat business. In fact, 70% of consumers will recommend a brand with a good loyalty program to others. It should be easy to accrue and redeem loyalty rewards…and consider going mobile. Rather than having to carry around yet another plastic card or enter their phone number at checkout, having a loyalty program accessed through a mobile app or mobile wallet makes it easy for customers to check the status of their rewards any time.

The benefit of using a loyalty program attached to a mobile wallet is that you can also send them customized offers and promotions. Whenever they want to redeem one, they simply add it to their wallet.

Competition is fiercer than it’s ever been these days, and it does take effort to retain and engage customers. But if you truly care about offering them the best products and services, the rest should be a breeze.

Does your Point of Sale improve the customer experience? Find out how ours will make life easier and better for you and your customers.

Susan Guillory is the President of Egg Marketing, a content marketing firm based in San Diego. She’s written several business books, and frequently blogs about small business and marketing on sites including Forbes, AllBusiness, and Cision. Follow her on Twitter @eggmarketing.