Earning the first sale from a customer is always considered the hardest. Depending on your domain, product, and pricing, it can take anywhere from days to months to convince someone to make a purchase. In highly competitive retail industries where sales are rather quick and impulsive, many businesses struggle to gain traction with new customers. However, it’s not just about gaining new customers but continuing to retain them.
According to research conducted by Bain & Company, an increase in customer retention of a mere 5% can potentially increase a brand’s profitability by nearly 95%. The trick is approaching your relationship with new customers as something you want to grow long-term. Learning and trying to better understand existing customers to better support their needs. This improves the chances of them continuing to do business with you and gives you more tools and tactics to target new customers like them.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at 5 subtle ways to convince your first-time buyers to come back for more.
1. Invest in real-time support
With rampant digitization and automation, your customers anticipate zero wait time. As many as 80% of online shoppers expect businesses to reply to their queries in real-time. Any delay on your part is a reflection that you don’t care enough about their problems. There’s a need to make yourself readily available if you want to offer them a great customer experience.
Live chat is the most tried and tested means to offer real-time support. With it, you can get more context on their problems by seeing exactly where in the process they are. The best part is that they’re more conversational and far more accessible than email support. Plus, through live chat software, your agents can work remotely, making it easier for your team to deliver 24×7 support from wherever they are.
What about AI chatbots?
Sure, AI chatbots are even more prompt and try to adequately resolve all the problems a customer might have, but it’s not for everyone. Chatbots are fed on limited data and their responses can get annoyingly objective. As soon as chatbots run out of their depth, they redirect users to support landing pages, or (and as it ideally should be) redirect users to live agents to provide more personalized support to the customers.
You may find that there is a benefit to running both a chatbot and live support option. A few quick questions can help divert common questions to support pages or bring them right to a customer service member. Try experimenting with the questions you ask, when certain support is available, and over time refine which option appears. This ensures that you’re providing a great experience for both your customers and your team.
2. Deliver a hyper-personalized experience
The service you offer your customers is the biggest competitive differentiator you have. It’s no longer enough to be just efficient, instead, it’s about meeting certain needs, and hyper-personalization is the next big thing. This means customers will buy from brands that cater to their increasing demands for fine-tuning.
Hyper-personalization can vary from calling a customer by their name to suggesting new products and services based on their previous interaction with your brand. In eCommerce, it is exemplified by Amazon. The online sales giant leverages predictive analytics and leverages both historical and real-time information to better understand your requirements as a customer.
Hyper-personalization can vary from calling a customer by their name to suggesting new products and services based on their previous interaction with your brand. Now, you don’t need to invest in AI-driven software to do this.
Instead, start simply and leverage lead generation forms and collect contact information for your email communications. You can also deploy targeted ads by segmenting your user base based on their shopping patterns and browsing behavior.
3. Address feedback received from customers
Now that you’re actively encouraging repeat purchases in your business, you must have a solid mechanism in place to listen to what your customers have to say. Taking a proactive approach to collecting customer feedback ensures that you never stay too distant from what the community needs you to do, even if their expectations keep evolving with time.
Relying on a full-fledged voice of the customer program might be a good idea as you go out collecting feedback. This helps you better track and respond to feedback based on customer experiences and expectations with your products and services. Here are just a few methods to start collecting feedback:
- Surveys (short/long-form, traditional, or website pop-ups)
- Social media listening
- Contact forms sent via email
- Exploratory interviews with customers
- Usability tests (to find how your products and services are used by your customers)
- On-site activity using website analytics
You can also leverage the insights gained from your customer support team. Are they seeing common questions? Similar reasons for a refund request? Use that information to better understand what your customers want to fine-tune the various aspects of your online store.
The next, far more important step is to act on the collected feedback. You must stop living in denial and after gathering all the insights, reach out and follow up with your customers. Doing that shows that you listen to their woes and care about making their experience better.
4. Start a loyalty program
One tried and true method for encouraging repeat visits is by rewarding customers through a loyalty program. The inception of this concept was very simple — promising customers a token of appreciation after every two or three purchases. Over time it has grown to become a more structured marketing strategy.
It still encourages customers to keep buying from the same shop or use the same company’s services over and over, but with more specific perks or rewards. A coffee shop, for example, may just stick with a simple punch card that rewards a customer with a free drink after a few purchases. An eCommerce site, on the other hand, may have a more complex reward system designed around total dollars spent that gives users a greater selection of reward options. Sites like Brooklinen and Ruggable are great examples of this exact loyalty program structure.
Are loyalty programs worth it?
Keeping a customer is almost 10 times more efficient than acquiring a new one. Plus, it helps you grow your revenue on multiple fronts. The most obvious cause will be increased repeat purchases where the top 20% of customers will contribute to around 70% of your sales.
Loyalty programs have long been on the run, encouraging repeat purchasing behavior, but with a little push, it can also improve the transaction size with time. But there are many more subtle benefits to it. For instance, if your program enables rewarding customers who invite other buyers from their community, you will have more buyers — it’s that simple. Plus it will add value with repeat purchases. Similarly, you can incentivize authentic user reviews and testimonials, thus adding to your social proof. You can also incentivize purchases beyond a certain threshold to improve sales volume and make the reward redeemable in the next purchase within a few weeks.
How to build a loyalty program
You can make your loyalty program as complex as you want but the simplest plan is often the most effective. Here’s a breakdown of the entire process:
Understand your present customers
Assemble data on average purchases of every customer in a year, how long they’ve been associated with you, their payment methods, and how their relationship has been with you overall.
Measure customer satisfaction
Launch surveys to assess the level of satisfaction in your customer base.
Set realistic goals
Decide what you want to achieve with the loyalty program and allocate a suitable budget.
Choose your target customers
Segment your present customers based on their loyalty, payment speed, and profitability, and decide which category you want to target to meet your objectives.
5. Send personalized gifts and incentives
Expressing your gratitude doesn’t have to be a big affair. It can be as simple as sending a handwritten thank-you note, or perhaps something personalized. Your notes and merchandise should also reflect what you do as a business.
Say, if you’re a boutique, your gifts can be a demonstration of style. Similarly, if your brand symbolizes minimalism, it should show in your token of gratitude. If that’s too much trouble, you can also offer them a reward token against materialized referrals to be utilized during their next purchase.
You can offer them cashback or other similar incentives for making purchases beyond a certain threshold. Similarly, you can encourage your customers to leave a review for the product/service they just purchased and incentivize this with a small discount coupon.
Building lasting relationships is a time-taking affair but the payoff is more often than not worth your resources.
Keep your customers coming back
Repeat customers are what give life to businesses and fostering them to keep coming back must be a top priority. At the end of the day, flashy discounts can only do so much — it’s the experience you offer them that counts.
Thus, proactively implementing the above 5 points will ensure that you cut your churn rate and entertain more happy and satisfied customers that keep coming back.