advertisement
advertisement
The Fast Company Executive Board is a private, fee-based network of influential leaders, experts, executives, and entrepreneurs who share their insights with our audience.

13 tried-and-true ways to retain and engage existing customers

Customer retention may be cheaper than new lead generation, but you need the right strategies to successfully earn repeat business.

13 tried-and-true ways to retain and engage existing customers
Members of Fast Company Executive Board share their expert insights. [Image: Courtesy of the individual members.]
advertisement
advertisement

One of the first lessons business owners learn is that it’s cheaper to retain an existing customer than to engage a new one. However, that doesn’t mean it’s easy—and failing to retain current clientele can lead to detrimental consequences for an organization.

advertisement
advertisement

Fortunately, there are several simple strategies that businesses can use to help retain and engage their existing customers. Not sure where to begin? Start with these 13 tried-and-true tricks shared by the members of Fast Company Executive Board.

1. LET THEM SPEAK TO A REAL PERSON

Customers expect leaders to be accessible and active on social media, and small- to medium-sized businesses can build community by having leaders involved in the building. Using video is even more effective in making customers feel connected. Then, when there are product or service concerns, they are more likely to voice them productively. – Marie Zimenoff, Career Thought Leaders

2. LEAD WITH AND DELIVER VALUE

Leading with value and delivering value all throughout the relationship with your customer is one of the most important ways to retain and engage existing customers. Creating new, impactful, and actionable value seems to be the best possible way to intrigue a customer’s interest in working with you longer term. With so much “shiny object syndrome,” you must be ahead of the curve on value delivery. – Benjamin Nader, 6 Figure Recruiter

advertisement

3. OWN YOUR MISTAKES

No one likes to be misled by anyone, especially someone whom you are compensating to perform a task. People will always make mistakes, so own the ones you make and be upfront with your clients. They will likely be surprised as that is not a typical action in today’s world. Being upfront with mistakes, but also your capabilities, helps lay the groundwork for an open and honest long-term partnership. – Brad Burns, Wayne Contracting

4. HAVE FORMAL AND INFORMAL CHECK-INS

It’s critical to not only have a continuous dialogue with them, both formal and informal, but also to schedule a future-looking check-in, where you ask them about problems they are facing or opportunities they are thinking of pursuing. This aligns you on several levels and even when it does not lead to direct business, you foster closer ties because they feel you care about their priorities. – David Shrier, Esme Learning Solutions, Inc.

5. SHOW THEM HOW MUCH YOU VALUE THEM

Reach out and touch the hearts of your loyal base of customers. Make them believe you value them for more than just the consumer dollars, and instead for who they are. Actively try and find out how you can help them and ask them to help you. Every customer wants to belong; make them part of your identity. – Dianne Dain, World Humanitarian Forum

advertisement

6. RESPOND AS SOON AS POSSIBLE

If a customer has a question, answer it ASAP. If a customer has a problem, solve it immediately. Timely, compassionate customer service goes a very long way. Some additional things you might consider to nurture that relationship might be to send them some company swag, provide exclusive access to an event or a celebrity or even just thank them when you don’t need to. – Jonathan Ronzio, Trainual

7. MAKE THEM FEEL LIKE A PART OF YOUR COMPANY

Retention is about making customers feel like a valuable part of the company. I try to create ways that a customer can feel like another member of the team, co-creating our product with us. The experience looks like this: provide a forum for feedback, ensure they feel like their voice is being heard, follow up later, and show how their voice made a direct impact. Complete the loop and see retention grow. – Greta McAnany, Blue Fever

8. STAY IN TOUCH VIA SOCIAL MEDIA

Communication via social media is a key way to retain existing customers. Connecting with consumers by answering questions about your brand is a great way to show your target audience you are interested. It also helps you tailor content so your social media posts have added appeal. Existing customers will navigate to other sites if you do not provide them with reasons to think of you often. – Evan Nierman, Red Banyan

advertisement

9. GIVE THEM MORE THAN THEY EXPECT

Customer loyalty is a result of likeability and trust. As a company, we’ve always tried to offer customers 10x more value than they originally expected—we call it the 10x factor. In addition to the service they pay for, we give away valuable resources for free, such as marketing insights, strategies, and ideas. This way, we show them that we are serious about helping them succeed. – Solomon Thimothy, OneIMS

10. HAVE CONVERSATIONS WITH THEM ABOUT THEIR BUSINESS GROWTH

Your best customers will often be the ones who require the least attention, but that does not mean that they should not get any special attention! Learn more about how they are planning to grow their businesses so you can work on being a part of that growth. – Alex Husted, HELPSY

11. EMPOWER YOUR TEAM TO SUPPORT CLIENT SUCCESS

Client satisfaction, engagement, and retention stem from our ability to act on their behalf. I encourage my team to wake up every day and ask themselves what they can do to further the success of the clients they manage. They should immerse themselves. Find data, news, competitive intelligence, anything that says, “I’m thinking about you and your business.” We share. Clients engage at a different level. – Lisa Bichsel, Bichsel Medical Marketing Group

advertisement

12. HELP THEM ACHIEVE THEIR GOALS

It’s critical to create a drip email campaign with content that adds value to your customers. In my company, we don’t just focus on giving clients tools that work; we also help them achieve their own bigger goals, like making their businesses successful. A series of automatic educational emails that help customers meet their goals will keep them engaged and retain them for the long run. – Syed Balkhi, WPBeginner

13. SHOW THEM YOU’RE LISTENING

There is no silver bullet, but showing that you are listening is a great place to begin. Adopt the discipline of using journey maps as a tool to stay on top of customer pain points. Start by choosing one or two moments of truth in your customer relationships, map the current state and the desired state, look for the big pain points, and solve those. – Amy Radin, Pragmatic Innovation Partners LLC