6 Tips for Keeping Your Existing Customers Happy

Happy customersOne of the things that has always mystified me about internet marketers is that they seem to think that once they have found a customer, they don’t need to do anything in order to keep them. All too often, I see people who should know better deliberately destroying their e-mail lists either because they don’t know or don’t care what it takes to retain customers.

The fact is that while many people think they should just keep pumping out new products, your existing customers are going to be your bread and butter. This does not mean by the way that you spam them endlessly with one offer after another once they’ve purchased something from you. You need to cultivate them in order to make them into lifelong customers. Here are 6 strategies that the experts use in order to keep their customers happy:

Don’t Treat Them Like Lemmings

When you have a very large mailing list, it often seems as if you can just send out an e-mail to them and walk away with a pretty decent return. Even if you just get 1% of your customers to place an order, doing that with a very large mailing list means you still make a decent amount of money.

However, a smart Internet marketer realizes that his or her mailing list is made of actual, real people. These are all individuals and they are busy and have to balance budgets just the same way you do. Why not treat them as individuals? Get to know some of the people on your mailing list and find out what it is that they want from your company. Ask questions and listen to the feedback.

Often, you’ll find that your customers will reward that kind of attention with extra purchases and with referrals to their friends. This means more money for you without having to work so hard to constantly keep your list fresh.

It also helps to provide your customers with more than a barrage of spam e-mails. Even if you never get to know the people on your list, if you send them an occasional freebie they’re more likely to think of you as someone they want to listen to in the future.

Supply Your Customers with What They Need

I’m a big advocate of not trying to recreate Amazon.com or Walmart. Sure you could do that but you would need millions of dollars in venture capital funding and tons of advertising to even make a dent in the business of either of these entrenched companies. That said, you can be all things to your customers in your own niche.

What I mean by this is that within whatever niche you work, you could supply all the services your customers need. If you don’t do it, someone else will. A good example of this would be SEO. Sure an SEO company could provide nothing but automated backlinks and many people do that. However, that’s a business model based on a race to the bottom.

In essence, when you are so narrowly focused and do not provide a full service shop so to speak, you are competing against others who also want to do it and who will do it cheaper just to steal market share from you.

On the other hand, an SEO company which can provide you with automated backlinks, hand made backlinks, consulting on your website and pretty much everything to do with the world of SEO can cultivate customers who get to know the people they work with and actually build a relationship.

That’s actually our approach here at QuantumSEO Labs and I believe it’s the right approach — to ensure that our customers feel they have someone to talk with instead of just paying a fee without really seeing someone reporting to them and providing them with information.

Reward Your Best Customers

Ever notice how airlines often allow their most frequent flyers to use the lounge at the airport for free? They also often give these frequent flyers free upgrades to first or business class and or other extra perks. This is in spite of the fact that the airline industry is going through all kinds of shakeups these days. 

The reason that the airlines do this for those who have their top frequent flyer accounts and not for everyone else is that they want to keep these customers happy. People who fly hundreds of thousands of miles a year often will have preferred airlines and they will try to fly with them whenever possible. A smart airline will try to cultivate these people.

You can do the same. Your best customers might rate a personal phone call to check and see how they’re doing. Or maybe even a Christmas basket or some other unexpected perk just so that they know that you appreciate them. This sort of thing goes a long way toward ensuring that your customers will remain loyal and not jump ship because someone else offered a slightly better deal.

By the way, by the same token, it’s important to ensure that those same customers will have someone to talk with if they are offered a better deal elsewhere. Customer retention is important and should be treated seriously by your company.

Be a Follow Up Type of Person

Regardless of whether a customer is brand new or one of your best, they’ll almost invariably keep coming if you go the extra mile for them. This means that if you tell them you’ll look into something for them, you actually take the time to get back to them in a timely manner.

You should also remember that if you are going to be late on supplying something the customer ordered, they need to hear from you that this is an issue. Be prepared to offer them a little something extra as a perk to make up for being late by the way.

Stop Taking Your Existing Customers for a Ride

A while back, Sprint ran a series of commercials where a school teacher would give a nice big pack of brand new crayons to a new child in the class while everyone else had to make do with broken bits of crayon. When the other kids looked at her as if she was being unfair, she explained that this child was new and they were already here.

Yes, we all know that you need to give extra incentives to your new customers in order to get them to sign up with you. You need to provide them with a freebie or some extra special deal in order to get them in the door. However, you should not completely ignore your existing customers.

Remember that your competitors are lusting after your existing customers and they want to steal them from you. What’s going to stop them from jumping ship because someone else offered them a nice perk for signing up as a new customer there?

The answer is that you also reward your existing customers. You provide these people with something extra that will make them more likely to want to stick with you so that they’re not going to bolt and head elsewhere at the first good deal. This means offering them an occasional special just for being loyal customers who have stuck with you.

Oh and don’t think that everyone is going to take the time to call and say that they’re leaving unless you give them a better deal. Often, people just take the deal offered elsewhere and then leave.

Be Unique

Your customers are much more likely to stick with you if you have something to offer them that they can’t easily find elsewhere. Maybe it’s your unique style of writing (I know several of my writing clients stick with me because they really enjoy my writing). Maybe it’s the fact that you have some special feature in your product that others don’t have. 

The important thing here is that you want to ensure that whatever it is you have for sale is not going to end up being a commodity. Once there is essentially no difference between your offerings and those of the competition, you are competing exclusively on price and there’s nothing worse than that because there will inevitably be someone willing to be cheaper than you.

This was actually the genius of Apple Inc. under Steve Jobs. Sure there are other smartphones available and PC Magazine even recently declared Samsung’s Galaxy phone as the best on the market. However, Apple continues to succeed because they have a unique offering which simply is not matched by their competition.

Bottom line, give your customers a reason to stick with you and they likely will do so. Don’t do that and watch your customer base disappear.

25 thoughts on “6 Tips for Keeping Your Existing Customers Happy

  1. Thank you so much for posting this article, keeping your customers happy is the number one reason that people leave a company and find someone new. I went to a hair dresser once that I loved but I could get them to cut my hair the way the lady was doing it before so I had to leave there and find some where else. Leaving customers are tough to overcome.

    1. Exactly right. It’s almost always cheaper and easier to keep an existing customer than it is to find a new one. Too few companies seem to understand this though and they simply take existing customers for granted. I recently switched cell phone companies for this very reason.

  2. This is so true. Many persons think that getting someone to sign up constitutes a mission completed. Even if they buy something, that doesn’t mean your job is done as a seller of products or information. Not if you intend to keep growing your business. Once you gain the trust of a customer, that’s just the beginning of the journey. In fact, that is a golden opportunity for you to learn about that customer’s needs / wants and then serve that customer’s needs.

    1. Exactly. As I think I mentioned, it reminds me of the old Sprint commercial where the teacher hands a pack of brand new crayons to the new kid and justifies it because “she’s new.” It is however always cheaper to keep your existing customers happy than it is to get new ones.

  3. I think it is important to learn about what your customers like and what interests them. An excellent example of this is how Amazon tracks your searches and your purchases. They use that information to email offers for related products based on this criteria. On the Amazon website, there is always that bar at the bottom of the page that says people who bought this also bought these items’. That is an super smart way to promote sales.

    1. A little big brother like but you are right that it makes Amazon extremely effective. Good example to try to follow.

  4. Yes people, getting a visitor to sign up for your newsletter or getting that first online purchase on your amazon store or your personal shopping cart, that is called conversion, but I say it should also be viewed as commencement. Commencement means beginning. That is just the start of better opportunities for you to learn about what they want and then give them what they need. It gets easier once you establish a certain measure of trust with your customers.

    1. Exactly right. I always say, it’s usually cheaper to keep existing customers happy than to get new ones. Too bad most companies don’t seem to get it. My cell phone company just learned that lesson the hard way…

  5. I am beginning to realize that for a small business, the best extra or bonus that you can provide when you are on a limited budget is information – useful, compelling information; Nuggets of wisdom or know-how. Who doesn’t appreciate that. And if you need to provide something tangible, make it digital media. That way, all you do is provide a download link so you don’t have to spend on product or on shipping and handling time.

    1. Excellent point. Also, simply making yourself available to your customers instead of ignoring them and treating them as a foregone conclusion.

  6. The last statement in the second to last paragraph of this article made me contemplate. I thought about what Yasir said about not wanting your product / service to become a commodity. I know that in Economics, the more specific meaning of the term commodity is applied to goods only. It is used to describe a class of goods for which there is demand, but which is supplied without qualitative differentiation across a market.

    1. Exactly right. You need to have a unique selling position as opposed to simply putting out what everyone else is putting out.

  7. So from what I have learned thus far, the success of your site depends not on bringing the visitors to your site but on keeping them interested and willing to look around once they are there. You can do this only by giving information of their interest. For example, when a housewife looking to shape up comes to your weight loss site, she expects to find ways to deal with her weight problem.

    1. Yes and no. You need to give them enough to keep them interested without giving away the farm. After all, you do want to sell them something too, right?

  8. Maybe you’ve heard the saying, “Make new friends, but keep the old… one is silver and the other gold? Well, when you’re running your own business, these “old friends are your existing customers. Just how golden are they? Free online survey creators like SurveyMonkey let you develop surveys online for free and find out what your customers really think about your products or services. You can ask all sorts of questions that will help you serve your customers better.

    1. Good point. I love Survey Monkey. Though I do prefer to post questions without so much outside advertising.

  9. Good customer service is about getting the basics right. If you answer inquiries quickly and sincerely, you’ll build a reputation of being responsive and your customers will feel that they can reach out to you when there’s an issue. Excellent customer service, however, goes beyond the basics and can greatly differentiate you from your competition. One simple way to do this is to perfect “the follow-up.”

    1. Excellent point. So few companies bother to have a customer service rep call and ask if everything is still working smoothly. And it would usually take around 10 seconds of a rep’s time to do so but would add tremendous good will.

  10. I believe as long as you make the effort to learn about who your customers are and what they want from you, you can’t go wrong. You will know how to keep them coming back. So listening to feedback has to be one of the keys to keeping your customers happy.

  11. It is smart and sensible to reward your loyal customers. The moment you fail to show them your appreciation, you can be fairly certain that there is a competitor lurking and looking for an opportunity to offer your customers a better offer or offers. You need to safeguard your customers the way you would a wife or a girlfriend you cherish. You wouldn’t neglect that person because you know if you do, she / he will be wooed by someone else.

  12. It is apparent from all that I have read that loyal customers drive profitable growth. As true and simple as that sounds, creating a culture that drives customer loyalty is hard to do. While every organization has pockets of excellence, most struggle with chronic inconsistency across locations, teams and even individuals. So if you have employees, how do you get every person’s heart, mind and energy focused on delighting your customers consistently?

  13. When it comes to rewarding your customers for their loyalty, I don’t believe that you should blow your budget. Little things means a lot in my honest opinion, it is the small things that makes a big difference. Some ideas won’t cost you a lot, if they do, you could always do them on a smaller scale. Sometimes just listening to them can make them feel appreciated.

  14. People are so fecal these days with everything and thinking they are entitled to something for nothing so I would say you have some really good tips here and a lot of people reading these and taking to heart how to keep their customers. A lot of the time it is quality and a relationship that will keep them hooked and it won’t matter the price.

  15. Being someone who does follow up is important you have to be able to contact your customers and see what is bothering them or what they like about your business etc. if you do that then you will make relationships with them that will last because they will see that you care. Thank you for the work that you have put into this post, please keep them coming.

    1. My pleasure. So glad we could be of help. And yes, because so few companies bother with follow up, it is a very powerful tool for encouraging people to continue to be your customer.

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