These nine customer retention strategies improve your onboarding, support, and feedback loops so you can effectively build loyalty and gain referrals.
Growing your customer base is essential to growing your business, but the costs from your marketing, sales, and onboarding programs can add up. It’s key to keep your current customers by finding the retention methods that make sense for your business. Your business will shrink if you lose existing customers faster than you gain new ones, plus research shows that acquiring new customers is up to 25 times more expensive than retaining existing ones.
Depending on your product and how your company is structured, customer retention probably isn’t the sole responsibility of your customer service team. Your company may also have customer success, product, implementation, and even sales teams that are also responsible for keeping churn low. That said, because customer experience is such an important part of customer retention (61% of customers will switch brands after just one bad experience and 72% will do so after two!), customer support teams are well-positioned to take the lead on retention strategies.
To help ensure you’ve got all the tools and processes in place you need to succeed, here are a few of the best customer retention strategies that customer service teams can implement.
These nine customer retention strategies can help you turn casual buyers into loyal customers who enjoy interacting with your product and your team.
When your customers clearly understand your product and how to use it, they’ll have a better customer experience, show more customer loyalty, and you’ll get fewer customer complaints.
Developing a thorough, yet easy-to-understand, onboarding process will ensure your new customers fully understand your product and enjoy using it. Plus, it’ll allow your customer service associates to catch any potential customer issues early.
A more hands-on, white-glove onboarding process can also introduce customers to your team so that they become more comfortable with seeking support. Customers who come to your team first to solve issues are less likely to churn when they have an issue.
It’s often a good idea to prioritize customer support tickets from customers in the first 30 days of using a product. This allows them to get to an “aha” moment faster, progress more quickly to using advanced product features, and create positive association with your brand. If your product offers a free trial, this is also a great time to prioritize personalized support, when customers are new to the product and very likely to need help.
Customer trust is a customer retention strategy that can go a long way, and the best way to consistently build customer trust is making sure you keep your promises. So, make sure your brand only makes promises in your marketing materials and support interactions that you can fulfill.
If you set high customer expectations during your early conversations, you may gain a positive reaction in the moment. However, if you don’t fulfill those expectations, your customer satisfaction will tend to erode, ultimately increasing customer churn.
But if you know your team can deliver on certain points, tell your customers about those strengths. As you make good on your promises, your customer relationship will grow stronger.
Ask your customers to give you feedback after your interactions. This is a great customer retention strategy because it shows you care about your customers and want to understand how you can do better. Most importantly, it allows you to make changes that will help them have a better experience with your company.
You can also use the customer feedback to proactively reach out to customers who may be having issues. For example, if a customer gives you a low rating, find out what their pain point was and use that feedback to adjust your process.
When you follow up on concerns and use customer feedback to make meaningful changes, customers will begin to feel you care about their experience.
Every customer is unique, and not everyone will contact your company in the same way. Some may prefer live chat, email, phone, or social media interactions. Make sure you have all these options available to your customers, so they can connect with your team in whatever way works best for them when they need support.
Also, use an omnichannel customer engagement approach, so you can switch communication channels mid-conversation as necessary without losing any information. So, if a customer contacts you through chat and an associate decides that switching the conversation to email will be more effective, they’ll still be able to see the relevant customer data that’ll help them quickly address the customer’s needs. An omnichannel approach can reduce your resolution time by reducing the number of times customers are asked to provide the same information and raise customer retention rates as a result.
Some customers need a little incentive to stay with your company for a long period of time. This is where a customer retention program and a loyalty program may help.
As part of a customer retention program, give customer support associates freedom to offer concessions to customers who are at risk of leaving. Whether this is a discount on another month of service, free shipping, a bonus product, or something else of value to the customer, this is a great way to lower your churn rate and improve satisfaction among your current customers.
A customer loyalty program offers your existing customer base rewards for remaining a customer for a long time or being a repeat customer. This can be as simple as locking in your product’s monthly or annual pricing as long as they remain a customer, offering discounts every year they renew, or providing coupons for reaching certain spend thresholds.
Building your brand loyalty is a great customer retention strategy that can also help with referrals.
Few things please a customer more than a quick response when they need your support team’s help. This is why a low average first response time (FRT) — the time it takes to answer a customer’s call when they enter the customer service queue — is a critical customer retention strategy.
Establish a low FRT as a key performance indicator (KPI) for your support team to work towards, and make changes to meet that goal. Those can include creating a robust internal knowledge base, adding automation where needed, upgrading to an advanced customer relationship manager (CRM), improving customer support associate workflows, developing templates for addressing common customer complaints, and more.
Faster first response times will help improve customer satisfaction, which can greatly improve customer retention.
Resolution time — how soon you resolve an issue after a customer calls, emails, or chats for help — is another KPI you can improve as part of your customer retention strategy. By reducing resolution times, you lower the amount of time customers spend fixing their issues. A swift resolution builds customer confidence in your company and can help reduce churn and increase repeat purchases.
On top of that, reduced resolution times will help lower your FRT. This combination can help further improve customer retention.
Customer satisfaction surveys will help you determine where your customer service team shines and where there’s room for improvement. This makes thoughtful, well-timed surveys a great customer retention strategy — they tell you your strengths and where you need to improve, so you can take meaningful actions.
You can also use surveys to determine your net promoter score (NPS). This is the percentage of customers who would recommend your business to friends and family relative to those who would not. NPS in particular is also a retention metric that can act as a leading indicator of churn. Low NPS scores indicate customer dissatisfaction and a lack of brand loyalty that will usually correlate to higher rates of churn.
Building trust and personal relationships may seem like basic customer retention strategies, but they couldn’t be more important. Again, you can build trust by ensuring you always meet your customer’s expectations. However, another part of building trust is being honest, admitting to your mistakes when you make them, and clearly laying out how you’ll solve the issue at hand.
And if you can’t solve an issue, it’s always best to be honest and upfront about that. For example, if a customer’s complaint relates to a feature your product doesn’t have and you don’t plan to develop, let them know that rather than tell them it might be coming. Even if that leads to this particular customer leaving, it's better than them becoming unhappy long term and potentially harming your relationship with their peers.
Building personal relationships can also help customers be more loyal to you. When customers contact you, find commonalities you can bond over. For example, if you ever visited where they live, you can mention how much you enjoyed their city.
Showing interest in the customer as a human can make your interactions more pleasant and build customer loyalty. Just be careful not to sound insincere and ultimately keep the focus on solving their problems — when customers are deeply frustrated by an issue, they want to get a solution, not make a new friend.
Customer retention helps your bottom line in two ways. First, it can lead to repeat purchases and increased customer value, meaning you need a lower number of customers to reach revenue and profit goals. Also, it saves you money because acquiring new customers is much more expensive than keeping existing ones.
By following these nine customer retention strategies, you’ll be well on your way to maximizing your profitability from your current customer base.
For more customer retention tips and advice, check out the PartnerHero blog.