Enticing Customers to Stay - dummies

By Shannon Belew, Joel Elad

Figuring out why customers no longer purchase from your online business is only half the battle of winning them back. To win the war, you have to take care of returning customers and ensure that they don’t leave again. That’s harder than it sounds because, after you have customers back “in your pocket,” you can easily take them for granted.

If you offer a sensational deal to only new customers, your loyal customers may feel left out and underappreciated.

Giving them blow-your-socks-off service!

You can bet that if you finally win back a customer, you had better not disappoint him or her. The first area you’re graded in is customer service. No longer can you squeak by and maintain the status quo. After wooing a lost customer, you have to step up your game.

Status quo service involves doing what is already expected of you, such as in these examples:

  • Provide a quality product (or service).

  • Give the basic information that’s necessary to make a purchasing decision.

  • Be available for questions or support.

  • Make the ordering process simple and efficient.

  • Deliver the product as promised.

  • Make post-purchase support readily available.

  • Clearly post customer policies on your site.

  • Honor your policies and terms of agreements.

That’s the minimum service commitment required from you. It keeps your customers satisfied but doesn’t make them feel special. Fantastic, blow-your-socks-off service keeps your customers loyal. This type of service might include these activities:

  • Anticipate customer needs by using shopping cart and database functionality.

  • Communicate regularly with customers to keep them informed about related topics and up-to-date on the latest trends.

  • Ask for customer feedback, and then respond to it.

  • Provide easy-to-find links on every page to access online customer service.

  • Offer real-time support (live customer service over the Internet) and other traditional options (such as toll-free numbers and e-mail).

  • Allow customers to choose the type of information or promotions they want to receive based on their interests or needs.

  • Follow up purchases with personalized thank-you notes.

  • Offer worthwhile incentives to buy more.

  • Make it easy to change orders or agreements.

  • Be flexible so you can address the changing needs of your customers.

Keep customers engaged and build continued brand loyalty with social media. Use sites such as LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, and even YouTube to post information about products, special discounts, surveys, and contests.

Rewarding loyalty

Customers appreciate being rewarded for their loyalty. You can reward customers with these special benefits:

  • Personalized coupons: Offer discounts on products targeted to customers’ specific interests (based on past buying habits).

    Send personalized e-greeting cards to your customers on their birthdays, for example. Including a coupon code for a special offer targeted to your customer is an effective way to reward loyalty.

  • Freebies: Occasionally give a free upselling product or other perk to reward loyal buying behavior.

  • Inside information: Give existing customers special access to sales or new products before new customers receive it.

  • Buyer’s club: Customers get a special offer, a gift, or money back every time they reach a certain purchasing level at your site.

  • Frequent shopper: No matter how much or how little the amount you choose, customers appreciate some type of monetary reward for buying regularly from you.

  • Special events: Invite loyal customers to special online or offline marketing events (for example, cooking classes, forums with experts or celebrity guests, and training webinars).

Don’t let a lack of funds stop you from rewarding customers. Get creative. For example, if you can’t afford to give a free gift to a hundred customers, two customers might be a manageable number of recipients. When customers spend a certain amount of money each month, enter their names in a drawing and select two customers to receive gifts.

Make a big deal out of the drawing by sending an e-mail to everyone on your customer list and posting the winners’ names on your website.

You really have no limit on the type of reward program you can offer customers. The only downside is that the program can become difficult to manage, especially as your business grows. That’s the time to enlist the help of a professional.

Luckily for you, many skilled and reputable companies specialize in the development and management of customer loyalty programs. Look into these companies: