It costs much more to acquire a new customer than it does to keep an existing one. Keeping your existing customers happy is the best way to keep and expand your business. How do you keep your existing customers happy? By regular customer engagement. This is a key factor in helping to grow businesses of all shapes and sizes.
Your Business Needs Customers, they pay the bills!
Whether you are selling a product or a service quality control is critical. You may think that what you provide is the best it can be, but it is your existing customers that can provide you with an honest appraisal of your product or service. Don’t think of quality control as a destination, it’s a journey. A journey that your existing customers can signpost for you.
Your existing customers have already taken an interest in what you offer, therefore you have a great opportunity to learn what they think you’re doing well, what could be improved, or what could be an opportunity for you. Engage with your website visitors, social media followers, and relevant support forums. All of these avenues can help provide insights from the customer perspective and help you focus your product or service more effectively.
Active engagement with customers and potential customers improves your online reputation and exposure and can lead to positive reviews on listing sites like Yell, Yelp, etc. Which in turn can help generate new customers.
Choices, Choices, Choices!
The chances of an existing customer who receives, what they consider as bad service from you, returning to your business is minimal. Not only that, people who receive bad service are much more likely to post a negative online review, than people who receive good service are likely to post a positive one.
The percentage of people who check out online reviews before making a purchase has climbed steadily over the past decade and currently sits at between 68% and 90% depending on the product or service purchased. Many surveys have shown that people trust reviews as much as recommendations from friends. So keeping your existing customers happy and avoiding negative reviews really is the key to expanding your customer base.
With all the different choices online, you have to be competitive across all areas of your business. Whether it’s improving existing services or adding new ones, your customers are the best people to tell you whether you’re keeping up.
Reducing the Cost of New Customer Acquisition
It costs almost 7 times more, in terms of money, to acquire a new customer than it does to keep an existing customer happy. Similarly the amount of effort you need to put it to keep an existing customer happy is significantly less than the effort you need to put in to getting a new one. So many businesses overlook their existing customer base in search of new opportunities, and forget that it’s their existing customers who are probably their best advocates in expanding their business.
Obviously, you will need to acquire new customers in order to grow your business. But your existing customers are significantly more likely to repeat buy from you, providing they have received good service, than any other demographic. If they have received good service they are likely to recommend you to friends, family, business acquaintances and online. This in itself can help gain new customers. From personal experience I receive about 50% of my new customers through referrals from existing ones.
Your Online Reputation is Important
Around 90% of people trust online review sites as much as they would trust a recommendation from a friend. This can be scary for a new business startup. How will you establish a good reputation? What happens if someone leaves a negative review? Negative reviews reach around twice as many people as a comparable positive review.
With this in mind, you really need to engage with your customers, ask for feedback. This can help to pre-empt and prevent negative reviews about you online.
Both positive and negative feedback needs to be acted upon. If the feedback is positive thank the person for taking the time and respond to any suggestions they might make.
If the feedback is negative directly address the issues raised and do your best to address them. About 1/2 of the people who leave negative feedback will react positively to appropriate engagement and will either withdraw their comments or post a positive update to their original negative post. This will help show potential customers that you care about what your customers want.
It amazes me that so many online negative reviews are ignored by businesses. Around 3/4 of negative reviews on review sites go without a published response from the business concerned. Those businesses will never know the true impact of those reviews, but it is likely to be significant. If you respond, you are showing that you provide better service and you are likely to be more successful than your competitors that do not. The online response does not have to long, something like – “I’m sorry to here that you are not happy with … Please contact me directly via … and I will be happy to help resolve your issue. (Your Name)”
This will help to mitigate the effect of any negative reviews.
A review site may well be the first place a potential customer comes across your business so make sure you register with all the main ones to get email notifications when a review has been left. This way you can keep on top of your online reputation.
Incentivise your Existing Customers
As mentioned above, your existing customers can be your best advocates when it comes to promoting your business. Keeping them happy can help spread your businesses reputation. One way to turbo charge this process is by offering incentives. You could offer upgrades or discounts to existing customers who refer new customers to you. In this way you turn your existing client base into an informal sales team, actively promoting your products or services to a wider audience and all for a very low cost.
It Takes Time To Get New Customers
The engagement rate for a potential customer who stumbles across your business website online for the first time is pretty low. Average browsing time can be less than a minute and bounce rates can be pretty high.
For non e-commerce websites you need to establish authenticity and sell the best aspects of your product or service and make an impact quickly. You should also include genuine testimonials which van be verified by potential customers. And if you have them provide links to positive reviews you have received.
Only 30% of first-time website visitors make a purchase on e-commerce sites. Returning visitors are twice as likely to make a purchase and will spend unto 3 times longer browsing. You can establish authenticity and reputation by allowing user comments and reviews to each of your products. Products with positive reviews are significantly more likely to be purchased than those without, see Amazon as a great example of an e-commerce/review site.
Feedback Can Point The Way Forward
Customer feedback is a valuable commodity. But it needs to be acted upon. It can be inconvenient, unpleasant and costly to recognise what you’re doing is not quite right.
But in business it is all about the bottom-line so if you need to make changes, make them. A small change or improvement can make all the difference.
Customer feedback is virtually free, apart from the time you have to spend engaging. The information that you acquire can be used to bolster your marketing and service offerings. Both positive and negative feedback can be utilised to develop your brand and bro your business. Listen to what your customers are saying and act on that feedback as soon as possible.