You did it! Your research, outreach, marketing and great product paid off, and a smart local business has agreed to advertise in your Coffee News® publication. While many Coffee News® publishers find businesses reach out to them, all of our entrepreneurs would agree that landing a brand-new customer can be really hard work. It’s much easier to keep your existing customers so happy they keep coming back. How much easier? According to Bain & Company, it is six to seven times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one. If you want to maximize your profits, you need to make customer retention your first priority. Here are five tips from successful Coffee News® publishers on how to make your first customer your customer for life!
1. Stay in touch.
When you pursue a sales lead or pitch a prospective customer, you shower them with personal attention and respond quickly to their questions and their requests. You make them feel special, and you establish a standard of customer service they expect from you going forward. Once they sign on, you can’t sign off.
Did your customer get a positive write-up in the local news or receive an award? Drop them a note of congratulations! Have they added new products or announced new events? Admire their efforts and ask how you can support their business growth. If you come across an interesting article that relates to their business or their personal interests, send it to them in a friendly email. Keep the conversation going, and your customers are less likely to go anywhere. A non-sales related check-in once a month can keep customers from checking out your competition.
2. Step up your customer service.
According to Accenture, price is not the reason most customers decide to go somewhere else. Customers are four times more likely to leave you if they have a problem with your customer service than if they are unhappy with your product. The more time you spend enhancing your customer service, the more it will benefit your bottom line.
When you sign a new customer, make sure they understand all the advantages of advertising in Coffee News®. Show them just how easy it is to create their first Coffee News® advertisement, and share the advertising expertise you’ve gained from Coffee News® College with your customers. Answer all their questions promptly and accurately. Provide them with all your current contact information and your business hours, and encourage them to let you know if they experience any problems. Always be personable and professional in every interaction, no matter how tense or frustrated you might seem at the time. When you successfully resolve a problem for a customer, you show them they can count on you—and they’ll come back to you, again and again.
When you distribute a fresh issue, reach out to your customers so they can prepare for a bump in new business. You might just find them helping you expand your business as well! According to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, happy customers tell between four to six of their peers about positive customer service interactions and are twice as likely to recommend your services!
3. Offer incentives to stay and reward customer loyalty.
Is your mailbox or inbox filled with junk mail offering you steep discounts on a new cable subscription package, bank account, cell phone service or credit card? Offering deep discounts or special rewards for signing up new customers is a flashy and popular business practice. It’s also very expensive—and not very effective in creating long-term customers.
Increasing your customer retention by 2% is equivalent to lowering your business costs by 10%! There’s a much bigger reward in retaining good customers than chasing new ones. The customers you should reward are the customers you already have.
From their first Coffee News® ad placement to their 50th, acknowledge customer loyalty milestones with handwritten notes, small gifts or packaged discounts. Offer a referral discount for happy customers that recommend your Coffee News® publication to their friends. Let long-time customers reserve their favorite placement on the page, and add incentives like one free placement or a discount to longer-term contract commitments. To keep an existing customer happy, you have to give away a lot less … and you get a lot more.
4. Survey your customers regularly. Can you be doing better?
Don’t assume that no news is good news. According to the Financial Training Institute, 96% of unhappy customers will never tell you they’re disappointed in your services … but 91% of them won’t come back. Reaching out regularly to your customers—and asking for their honest opinion of your work—lets you find out if something’s wrong and have the chance to fix it.
Send an email survey to your customers on a quarterly basis. (Services like SurveyMonkey are free and easy to use.) You can also mail surveys to your customers or schedule regular one-on-one check-ins. Ask specific and thoughtful questions, and include a text box for customers to share their thoughts or raise new issues. Even customers that choose not to respond will register that you care about their opinion. Read the responses you do receive carefully. Even if a complaint seems unfair, don’t get defensive—get on the phone to offer an explanation and to ask how you can make it right.
5. Show the results your customers are looking for.
Coffee News® advertising is some of the lowest cost, highest value advertising available anywhere. But not all the benefits of advertising are immediate or tangible, and effective advertising takes time to take hold in today’s ad-saturated world. Make sure your customers always have reasonable expectations … and then, make sure you always exceed them.
Repeat customers spend up to two times more and are six to seven times less expensive to acquire than new customers. The high quality of Coffee News® makes customer retention easy—but it still takes a little extra effort that will pay off big in the end!