Ask yourself these questions: How much do you spend annually on customer acquisition? How much do you spend on customer retention? Which is more valuable? The answer may surprise you. While acquiring new clients is imperative to any business, customer retention drives long-term profits and actually feeds into new customer acquisition. When you make evangelists of your customer base, some of your most powerful marketing is already done for you—by word of mouth. So if client retention is a significant factor for long-term growth and sustainability in any business organization, what are some behaviors top organization leaders use to maintain customer loyalty?

Setting expectations and building relationships

A satisfied customer and a loyal customer are two very different things. While you may persuade your ideal client to make a one-time purchase, you’ll never see this purchase translate into brand loyalty unless you develop a relationship of trust with the client. Achieving this kind of loyal customer base starts with how you begin your relationship with your customers. Richard Branson said, “The key is to set realistic customer expectations, and then not to just meet them, but to exceed them—preferably in unexpected and helpful ways.” Always delivering what you promise when you promise builds trust, and in turn your customers will trust you to advise them. Being proactive and anticipating your customers’ needs can also go a long way toward retaining them for life. If your clients know every interaction with you is hassle-free and pleasant, they’re more than likely to engage with you when new products and services are introduced.

Utilize your organization’s greatest strengths: your employees

What does your brand do well? What sets you apart from your competition? Your employees should be one of your strengths. A 2013 Gallup poll showed that only 30% of employees are engaged in their work; this no doubt will eventually translate into lackluster customer interactions. While a good compensation plan is a must, intrinsic motivators are what truly drive performance. Building a strong culture, clearly explaining your mission and values, and explaining how to succeed in the organization can help ensure team members achieve results—and helping them connect the dots to their job will take them even further. Acknowledging your team’s successes and allowing them to handle tasks that engage them and spark their curiosity can bring added value to their productivity. Ultimately, showing loyalty to your staff will pay dividends, as they loyally support your business.

Treat your customers like people

Remember the golden rule? It applies to customer retention as well. Your online marketing should strive to relate to your clients on a personal level and thank them for any feedback they provide. Thank you notes, loyalty discounts, and providing an open forum for their thoughts all send a clear message that you value your customers just as much as you value their business. In short, every team member in your organization should also be a client relations manager. Customer retention is the key to brand loyalty and growth; utilizing these steps can ensure your brand thrives for years to come.

Let’s recap

People know a sales pitch when they hear it, and they hear it every day. What truly makes you stand out from your competitors is when you acknowledge your clients’ needs and treat them like people, not revenue statistics. We all seek connection and your customers are no different. By developing relationships tied to realistic expectations, positive employee interactions, and simple courtesy and clear communication, you’ll find that your customers will advance your brand far more effectively than any marketing campaign. 

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