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The Ultimate Guide to Customer Retention for SMEs

Written by Ryan Terrey
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While there should always be a focus on attracting new clients, SME businesses are severely limiting themselves if they don’t devote a significant portion of their marketing activity towards retaining existing customers.

A repeat rate of around 30-40% every month is a good objective to aim for, and 50% is probably your ceiling. Any more than that, and you’ll most likely need to ramp up your marketing focus to attract new customers through venturing into untapped marketing opportunities.

However, if you are not attracting that kind of repeat business, you are putting your organisation in a risky position. Thankfully, there are several things that can be done to ensure there is a good split between new and existing customers in your sales pipeline.

So, what are they, we hear you think? 

You’ll find out in this ultimate guide to customer retention for SMEs.


What is customer retention?

Customer retention relates to a business’s ability to ensure its customers buy from it multiple times after their initial purchase. 

To do this, companies need to maintain relationships with their previous buyers through regular and, more importantly, effective marketing incentives and activity.

The concept works on the principle that it is cheaper in terms of ROI to retain an existing customer than it is to attract a new one.

Often, customer retention strategies are designed and delivered differently than marketing strategies that target new customers.


Strategies for Customer Retention

If you are looking to implement strategies to garner repeat business from existing clients, here are some of the best tactics you can employ.


  1. Provide World Class Customer Service

While SMEs can spend a lot of time devising complex marketing plans that will maximise their ROI, one of the easiest ways to retain customers is to offer them world class customer service.

To do this, you’ll need to train your staff accordingly and deliver on your promises - especially in terms of when products will be delivered and the timeframe in which you will respond to enquiries.

But beyond that, you should also ensure existing customers are made to feel extra special. One way to do this is to utilise the 1300 number solutions offered by inbound phone numbers.

For instance, you can provide all existing customers with an exclusive phone number only previous buyers of your products can use. (Consider it a Bat Phone, but for those who’ve bought from you before).

If you make a point of answering this number within a couple of rings, it will show these customers that you value them above and beyond new ones.


  1. Listen to your customers

Another excellent way of retaining customers is to listen to them.

Inviting feedback from your buyers can provide valuable insights into what they liked best about their overall shopping experience and what they didn’t enjoy.

By sending them short surveys after their first order, they will also be able to give you an honest suggestion of how you can enhance your sales process, based on their observations whilst going through it.

Most importantly, if you decide to take on board their feedback and even modify your processes accordingly, it is a good idea to send them some form of thank you – whether that be an email note or a discount coupon for another order.


  1. Launch a Customer Loyalty Program

According to this article in the NewYork Times, customer loyalty programmes have been around since the 18th century. There is a reason why they have stood the test of time and that is because they offer existing customers benefits and incentives to keep them loyal and engaged with your brand.

The most effective customer loyalty programmes improve customer retention, build stronger relationships, increase revenue and encourage word-of-mouth marketing.

Therefore, to persuade more existing customers to purchase your SMEs products or services, it is worth investing resources to make your programme as attractive as possible.


  1. Personalise Your Marketing Activities

The more special you make your customer feel the more likely they are to remain loyal to your business. So, the way to make them feel like this is to personalise your communications with them.

However, personalising your communications doesn’t just involve addressing them by their first name. It also requires you to provide them with tailored offers and customised messages that are based on their previous purchasing or browsing history.

Essentially, it is about utilising the knowledge you have collated about them to communicate in a way they will find relevant and interesting.


  1. Build a Social Media Community

Often the best SMEs don’t just sell products or offer services, but they also have built a community of loyal customers and followers who find their brand appealing. A great way to do this is through social media platforms like YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and Facebook.

By posting regular content, you keep your brand at the forefront of your customer’s minds and on top of their mental shopping list.

You can also advise them of everything from company updates and new product launches to special offers and competitions.

At the same time, you can facilitate discussions and create a sense of belonging among those who regularly interact with your company, which should result in their continued loyalty.

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