What is this obsession with chasing after new customers all the time? Driving the children to school the other day I was incensed by a Direct Line advert, bragging about introductory discounts, presumably for new customers.
Remember the Nationwide advert for “Brand New Customers Only”? That ad worked because we’ve all experienced the injustice of special deals being offered to new customers and not us loyal ones.
And is it just me or do you also go through the same rigmarole every year of needing to take out a new car insurance policy (often with the same provider) because it’s cheaper to sign up again online than it is to renew?
Seriously? It doesn’t make sense and financial service providers are some of the worst culprits. But I wonder if small businesses aren’t just as bad? Do you spend your time and energy on looking after the clients you have, encouraging them to do repeat business with you? Or is your marketing strategy all about the new business?
New customers cost up to seven times more to win than leveraging business from your existing customers. And your existing customers, who presumably know you, like you and trust you, are likely to spend up to three times more than new clients. So if the financials don’t add up, why do we do it? Why do we spend so much time and energy chasing new business rather than nurturing our valuable client base? And if we should be nurturing our client base, then how do we do it?
I’ve recently run a Customer Retention conference with customer management expert, Liz Machtynger, so this is a subject that’s very close to my heart.
Here are seven ways you can nurture your valuable client base:
- Brand for the long term. Is it possible to create a brand that helps you retain as well as attract new customers? I think so!
- Be clear about what sort of clients you want to retain. Not everyone you work with will be your ideal client. The client that waves the biggest cheque won’t necessarily be your most profitable client. Think hard about which clients will be delighted with what you know you can deliver.
- Take some time to nurture the relationship at the outset. Liz calls this “getting your customers safely on board” – listen to your customers: what they want and how you can deliver that.
- Recognise and reward your customers. Take the time to say ‘Thank You’ for a piece of work. This might be as simple as a postcard in the delivery box, a range of tailored offers or inviting special clients to an event you’re running. Make them feel special.
- Lose with grace. If a customer leaves you, recognise when it’s best for both of you. Don’t take it personally. Get yourself ready to win them back (assuming it’s the right thing for both of you – it isn’t always…)
- Take your clients on a journey. Develop a range of products and services to keep your clients coming back. It sounds obvious but I know of many wonderful businesses who don’t think further than the first interaction. Explore how you can help your clients over the long term as well as the initial quick fix.
- Find out what your customers are really thinking. Ask them! Either via a questionnaire, online survey or just face-to-face. Call them to say thank you and find out how their experience was. You can use this feedback to improve your service.
Has this got you thinking?
Fiona Humberstone is an expert contributor to Marketing Donut and managing director of Flourish.