If you are struggling to gain new customers and keep them, here are five simple strategies for attracting and retaining customers.
Newsletters, simply put, are one of the best ways to attract and retain customers for your service business. A newsletter keeps you in touch with your customer in a way that provides them value and keeps them engaged with your business by subtly reminding them that you’re available and ready to serve them when they need you.
It’s estimated that 10% of your customers will forget about you each month, and for a business that has a customer purchase cycle of once or twice a year, that can be a problem. Regular communication with your customer solves that issue.
A newsletter can also help prospects get to know your business before they buy from you and can make warming them up along the know/like/trust axis easier.
One of the reasons newsletters are so effective is because they are not generally thought of as marketing or sales materials. Unlike coupons and other offers, newsletters are more like content marketing. They provide value upfront and on a regular basis, and are much more likely to be read and consumed by your prospects and customers while building the all-important trust and rapport.
Newsletters can be printed or emailed, but studies have shown that physical newsletters have a higher perceived value and are more likely to get a better response rate than digital copies.
Every service business owner should be sending out a newsletter at least once a month, preferably on the same day each month. What should you include in a newsletter?
Each newsletter you send out should have a story that pertains to your business or industry, as well as personal information about you and your company or something that is happening in your community. In addition to that, you should include content and articles that your customer would find useful.
In our company newsletter, we share information about how to increase profit, how to save on taxes, changes in the tax law that affect service businesses, etc. Our clients look forward to receiving information that will help them run their service business more successfully and you can just as easily use the same approach.
When done correctly, your newsletter can be one of your most effective marketing efforts and your customers will begin to look forward to hearing from you.
#2 Customer Loyalty Programs
A good customer loyalty program will result in customers spending more and staying longer with your company.
In my business, we reward our clients for loyalty at our annual Client Appreciation event. We present certificates and “Adept” bucks as a way to reward loyalty. We have created “Adept” bucks in denominations of $25, $50, and $100. These bucks are presented to clients for loyalty and can be used for future services.
Some service businesses utilize loyalty cards that reward customers for continued service by offering a discount or free item after a certain number of purchases or a certain dollar amount of purchases.
Other options include keeping track of customer birthdays and sending them special offers and birthday cards. One company I work with takes this idea a step further and sends those customers a ½ birthday card. This often increases the number of times customers interact with the business simply because they stand out by making such an offer.
#3 Attitude of Gratitude
People want to feel valued and appreciated. Developing a system that shows them gratitude for being customers will go a long way in increasing loyalty and the average lifetime value of that customer.
In my office we send thank you cards immediately after tax returns have been picked up by the client. We also send thank you cards to our business clients throughout the year as a reminder that we appreciate them and are thankful for them. We know they have a choice and we are glad they choose us. You can do the same for your service business.
When is the last time you sent out a thank you card? It’s less work than it sounds. Set aside 15 minutes each Friday to write out 5 thank you cards and over the course of the year you’ll end up reaching out to most, if not all, of your customer list.
It’s also important to show gratitude to your employees. That gratitude and appreciation gets played out down the line with your customers, so take the time to thank your team and create an attitude of gratitude in your staff!
#4 Lost Customer Program
Most service business owners have some data on how often a customer buys from them, but not many have a program in place to re-engage customers who haven’t bought in a long time.
Identifying those customers that have lapsed and prepared a special offer for them is a good way to bring them back. Send them a customized letter and follow up with a phone call. This communication is the perfect opportunity for you to find out why they became “lost” customers in the first place and show them that you’re interested in doing what it takes to win their business back.
For every customer that complains, there are 10 that don’t tell you anything but go on to tell their friends about their experience. Reach out to the customers that didn’t buy again and find out why.
#5 Better Customer Service
Customer service will often be the make or break distinction for your service business. Chances are you are not your customer’s only choice, and if they don’t like the way they are being treated they will choose to go with your competitor.
You need to be deliberate in training your staff on how you want them to interact with your customers. This could be by writing a script and practicing it until they become comfortable with it, or it can include role play.
The goal is consistently high-quality customer service. This repetition makes it easier for your employees to execute and deliver the same service for customers, and it increases the confidence and trust customers feel in your business
It’s also important to note that when you treat your employees as a valuable part of the business, you will increase your level of customer service. Employees really need to feel like they are valued members of your team.
If you treat your employees well, they will in turn, treat your customers well.
Happy employees will work harder for you and take a personal interest in your customers.