customer retentionLet’s assume your pricing and quality is consistent with your market, so buyers won’t be leaving due to excessive cost or shoddy products/services.  Therefore, the number one requirement to retain an existing, premium customer is to maintain a sufficient level of communication with them. There are lots of customer retention strategies.  Over the years this issue has been a fairly constant challenge in my sales coaching engagements and I’ve kept a file of how various clients have dealt successfully with this challenge.

Here are some of the customer retention communication tactics extracted from those notes:

The bottom line is that the more you engage (communicate) with your customer or buyer, the deeper the relationship will become.  While bearing in mind that you can overdo things, an optimum number of annual “touches” is approximately 4, depending upon your type of business, the importance of the buyer, etc.  Over time, trust increases, as does comfort and familiarity.

If you are a professional service provider (e.g. engineer, consultant, lawyer, accountant, therapist, dentist, surveyor, etc.), you can offer planning-for-the-future services and/or advice.  By that I mean you offer to look forward to anticipate issues that may become a problem in the future. For example, accountants can take a look at how their clients can mitigate tax exposure in the upcoming year, or a lawyer can examine how a proposed regulatory change will impacts a client’s business practices.

Sticking with professional service providers a bit longer, they can also offer to take on projects, e.g. if a client opens a new sales office, what is the break-even point?  Or, before we bid on that land for a new apartment complex, we’d better first make sure the soil is sufficiently stable. All these options provide excellent opportunities to deepen the relationship.

Retailers such as Kohl’s routinely send sales announcements and discount coupons via email and regular mail to repeat customers.  These messages are, obviously, designed to drive increased revenue, but a subtext is Kohl’s desire to be connected with you; to build confidence, trust, familiarity, etc., so that they become a comfortable and routine shopping destination.  

Many restaurants offer a free dessert or other benefit on a patron’s birthday.  It obviously depends upon the nature of your business, but celebrating a buyer’s birthday, anniversary, or other important event in their life is an effective way to keep in touch, say “thank you,” and demonstrate that you look at them as something more than a source of revenue.