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7 Customer Retention Strategies in These Uncertain Times

Customer retention can be very challenging for businesses in 2020. We are living in unprecedented times, which leaves many of us uncertain on what steps to take in order to keep existing customers or acquire new ones. As priorities shift and budgets are compromised, there is a need to find efficient ways to help sustain your business.

You must have heard that retaining existing customers is cheaper than gaining new ones. This makes sense because those who have had positive experience with your brand would most likely buy from you again, which is more cost-efficient than exploring new marketing tactics for customer acquisition.

This principle still applies in the new reality we are living in today: as customers have become more sensitive to brands, they would most probably choose those that have already made a positive impact on them.

Retaining customers will also help your business in the long run. Gartner Group states that 80% of your future earnings will come from just 20% of your existing customers.

So what customer retention strategies should your brand do in these uncertain times? Read on to find out what could be best for you and your business. 

Find Influencers Your Customers Trust

Authenticity has always been a big deal to customers when it comes to finding which brands to trust. Recently, through actions like #BlackoutTuesday and the Facebook ad boycott, it’s clear people are paying closer attention to how brands are responding and empathizing with their customers.

Once you have modified your brand tone and motives, the next step to consider is how to get the message out there. Influencer marketing is one of the ways for you to build brand authenticity, but this still depends on who you choose as your ambassadors and how you’d want them to reflect your brand. 

When it comes to choosing the right influencers that fit your brand, you may think that the more popular an influencer is, the better. However, this isn’t always the case. Micro influencers, or those who have at least 1,000 to 10,000 followers on social media, could give your brand a bigger and better impact compared to celebrity-level influencers.

Why should you consider micro influencers? Because they have a smaller fan base compared to macro influencers, these micro influencers have the capacity to involve themselves, engage, and interact with their fans. 

They are also seen as experts in their field and their community tends to have authentic followers of their type of work, as compared to fans who just follow because of an influencer’s popularity.

You can retain customers and even gain new ones when you tap the right micro influencers who would advocate for your brand. Because they are seen to be true and authentic by their community, their fans are more likely to trust their recommendations. 

If you’re ready to find the right influencers for your brand, you can start with a free search on Socialbakers.

Have More Conversations With Your Customers

The next customer retention strategy is perhaps one of the things many businesses forget to do: letting your customers know that you still appreciate them. 

Brands sometimes get so caught up in acquiring new customers that they forget to show how thankful they are for those who have supported them in the past. Anyone, no matter what walk of life they are from, wants to be appreciated for something they have done. Therefore, it means a lot for your customers when you show them how much you value them.

How do you show your appreciation? There are plenty of ways to do it online. Because of the pandemic, people have been spending more time on social media. Statista’s report on in-home media media consumption shows a 44% increase in time spent on social media worldwide.

Source: Statista

Because people are spending more time online, one effective way to show your appreciation for them is giving them great customer support that is capable of assisting them, and at the same time, help you strengthen the relationship you have with them. 

Consider this: instead of calling it customer support, refer to it as a conversational support. Aspire to make genuine conversations with your customers. Don’t make them feel like they’re talking to a robot.

Aim for a dialogue that is more targeted and personal, not automated. If your customer sees that you know them, remember them, and appreciate them, then they’d return the appreciation back to you.

Keep Employees in the Loop

Your employees are equally important as your customers. Why? When your customers do business with your brand, they interact with your employees. If your customers have a concern, they go to your employees for support. 

A good or bad experience can not only come from a product they purchased, but it could also come from an employee that they have interacted with. Even online, customer-facing employees must be both reliable and likeable to earn the trust of the market. 

One of the reasons why your customers stayed your customers is perhaps the support or experiences they have had with a customer-facing employee from your company. It’s not just the reputation of your brand or the product you sell that matter to your customers, but it is also the positive interactions they have had with your employees.

Therefore, part of a solid customer retention strategy is to make sure that your employees are updated with everything there is to know about your brand, including how your customers have changed over time. Your employees must know how they can adjust according to the changing needs of the customers they constantly interact with, even online.

A great conversation happens when a person knows a thing or two about who he or she is talking to. And to take this strategy to the next level, it would help to try to boost employee advocacy on social media.

Adapt to Customers’ Changing Needs

The COVID-19 pandemic will have a lasting impact on how businesses operate. Employees may be working from home for the rest of the year, and companies have to learn how to adjust or shift their operations to sustainable and safer ways. For many that has included an accelerated focus on digital transformation.

Finding new ways to work with your customers in the midst of this pandemic is a must. Study how your market has behaved or is behaving during this difficult time: what is their new purchase behavior? What is convenient for them? What is safe for them and for the employees of my company?

Screenshot from Zero Grocery on their new ways to engage with customers while social distancing.

To put this into perspective, let’s say you own a restaurant. There are specific sanitation protocols you must follow to ensure the safety of your customers. However, because we are still in the middle of a pandemic, some customers will still not feel comfortable dining in your restaurant. 

What should you do? You must then learn how to add delivery to your restaurant in order to serve those who want to stay at home, and be more present on social media so that potential customers know about both the precautions you’re taking and what you have to offer.

Adjusting your operations to serve your customers shows how much you value them. It reveals how intentional you are as a brand and this would most likely earn the trust and loyalty of your existing customers.

Review the Message in Your Marketing Strategies

Another customer retention strategy is to revisit the message your brand says on all your platforms. By this time you have adjusted your brand message, tone, and motive to a more sensitive, empathizing one considering what the world is going through in this pandemic. 

Customer engagement on social media could affect customer retention. How you engage with your followers will help build or break your relationship with them. Consider these two situations: 

  • If they purchased from your physical store but see that you’re not a genuine brand on social media, they might stop buying from you 

  • If they see your brand first online, but with a message they find insensitive or tone deaf, then they probably won’t buy from you

Get to know your target market on a deeper level and adjust your message according to what their beliefs and their values are.

Say Less, Listen More

Similar to what we have discussed earlier about having genuine conversations with your customers online, part of earning their trust is being a good listener. 

Doesn’t it feel nice when a friend takes time to listen to you and remembers what you talked about in your previous conversations? Well that’s the same with building brand and customer relationships. 

How do you serve your market better if you don't know them? Before your brand says anything, take the time to use social listening to better understand your customers first. 

Your customers stay because they feel valued by your brand. Make them feel appreciated by learning about who they are and what they want from you so that you’re able to serve them in ways that they find meaningful. 

Provide More Payment Options

Last but definitely not least, customers choose to stay because your brand offers different payment options that allow for more flexibility. Especially during this pandemic, customers are opting for contactless payments to avoid any physical contact. 

Even before COVID-19, having more payment options available can give customers a positive experience for your business because of two things:

  • Transactions are made easier and faster when you have different payment options available

  • It shows that your business has considered the different circumstances your customers are in 

Some are comfortable with paying cash upfront, others via credit card, while others are in need of installment options to allow enough breathing room. Have different payment options available for a more positive consumer experience that will help retain your customers.

The Takeaway

The key to retain customers is this: show how much you value them through the way you interact with the public and operate your business. You can never go wrong by being appreciative of your customers and being true to yourself.

In these uncertain times, don’t hold back in showing how much you value your customers and employees because, quite frankly, they are the most important elements that will help keep your business afloat.

Editor's Note: This article was originally published on socialbakers.com. Any statistics or statements included in this article were current at the time of original publication.

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