Every employee of Eastlake, OH-based wholesale printer Blue Moon Promotional Inc. is involved in providing their customers with exemplary customer service and CEO, Pierre John Jamnicky, makes sure of that. “Every person knows what we’re after and is dedicated to making it happen,” Jamnicky says. “Yes, some are more into it than others, as is the case with all employees, but the reality is we’re all on the same page.”
Any business owner will tell you that, while bringing in new customers is certainly important, retaining your existing customer base is the real key to surviving in any industry. It’s the loyal customer who returns to you time and time again or refers you to other clients because of your ability to meet their product or service needs
But, don’t take our word for it—let’s break down the numbers showing how important returning customers can be:
- Your returning customers will provide you with 65% of your company’s sales.
- The average business will lose about 15% of these returning customers each year.
Since it’s so important to cultivate a close-knit relationship with your returning buyers to run a successful business, let’s look at exactly how you can keep these customers coming back for more.
1. Put Customer Service Front and Center in Your Culture
This isn’t an option. It’s a must. If you want to create a relationship with your customers that will last for years, you must provide top-notch customer service. Your company has to make sure customers know that you value their business. For Michigan-based embroidery supplier, EnMart, everything centers on customer service. This means no one’s exempt from answering customer calls, not even the company’s president and owner.
“This serves two functions,” says Kristine Shreve, EnMart’s Director of Marketing. “One, it gives people in management positions an idea of what the customer service reps experience. Two, it really gives punch to the idea that customer service is the business of everyone in the company.”
In the event of a mistake, it should be the norm that your team goes to all lengths to ensure the situation is resolved satisfactorily for the customer. In fact, 85% of customers believe customer service is key to getting their return business, so if you start with this, you won’t go wrong.
2. Go for the WOW Effect
The “WOW effect” really clicks with new customers—and will bring them back for more. When they open their package from your web store or business, they need something that shows you put thought into fulfilling their order. This doesn’t have to be especially elaborate or expensive, but it does have to include something personalized. For instance, you can include custom hang-tags for each product in the shipment. Consider writing personalized “thank you” notes demonstrating to the customer they aren’t just a number to you, but are instead a real part of your business. Another idea? Give your loyal customer base a little something special in each order.
“Maybe we’ll send a sample of something new we’re thinking of stocking, or a sample of a product they use and tell them to make something fun with it,” Shreve suggests. This turns into a win-win, as those customers frequently share their gifts on social media, giving your company free exposure.
3. Make a Personal Connection with Your Business
Get to know each customer personally, so you can cater your outreach to match their wants and needs. When emailing special offers to your customers, try to customize them as much as possible for each customer type. For instance, if they’ve been looking at an item on your website, but haven’t purchased it, send an offer for that item at a special price. If they purchase it, you can get creative with this by doing things like emailing a picture of that product being placed in a box by one of your employees, letting them know it’s on the way.
This simple act shows the customer that, not only are they valued, but your employees are as well, since they’re being included in your marketing efforts. “The biggest failure I see from the customer service point of view?” Jamnicky says. “It’s the failure to consider the customer’s perspective. So, instead of looking at what we’re doing, always look at the order from the customer’s point of view and see if their expectations are met.” This will help you create experiences that really resonate with customers and keep them loyal to your brand.
4. Create an “Unboxing Experience”
The hottest videos on social media feature those who have purchased specialty boxes and crates that feature surprise items built around a theme. You can easily create one of these using the different logoed items you offer. For instance, a person who orders a school t-shirt could also be encouraged to purchase a “school crate” that features a logoed lanyard, cup, water bottle or other items all built around this one logo. You can also create a head-to-toe ensemble of a hat, mask, shirt, and shorts that can help them go all out in representing their school.
Encourage those who purchase one of these to post an “unboxing” video to social media and tag you. Then, interact with them on social media, reposting their original video. This type of interaction can create a personal affinity with the customer that will keep them coming back for more.
5. Follow Up with Your Customers
It’s not enough for you to get that initial sale from the customer. Once the product leaves your warehouse, you need to follow up with the buyer to make sure they know you appreciate their order, so they’ll come back for more. One way to do this is with an email request for a review or an online survey on what you did well and what you could improve on.
If you offer this, you’ll need a way to “sweeten the deal” by including coupons or other special offers for their next purchase. Jamnicky makes sure that all of Blue Moon Promotional’s customers know what’s going on each step of the way, after they place their order. “We inform them about the status of their orders throughout the process,” he says.
Personalizing the Customer Experience Is Key
Creating a personalized business experience is one of the big takeaways you should have in creating return customers. If they feel valued, because your company wants to take care of them with excellent customer service and excellent follow-ups after the sale, your customers are more likely to keep coming back to you.
Shreve believes authenticity is vital when it comes to customer service. “The most important thing is that a business be true to its own style,” she stresses. “Figure out what you’re comfortable doing and don’t do the things that you don’t feel suit you. There are lots of ways to make connections and provide good customer service. Find the ones that feel natural to you and do those.”
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