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10 Effective Ways to Retain Your Customers

10 Effective Ways to Retain Your Customers

If you work in a job where you are responsible for sales, or if you own your own business, retaining your customers is one of the most important things. With all the technology we have, it is more important nowadays than it was 10 or 20 years ago. Why?

Because in today’s “Internet world,” your best customer is just one click away from your competition.

Building a good relationship with your existing customers can make a great difference in the growth of any business. The well-known fact is that it is 10 times cheaper to retain your customers than to find new ones. So it is well worth doing something about it.

To start with, forget about all those complicated techniques and CRM (Customer Relationship Management) techniques.

By far the best way to retain your customers is to think of them like of your spouse or your friends. Do you remember what have you done to your spouse in order to win her or his heart? If you do, then you are your way to retaining your customers for life.

1. Give your customers extra value

When dating, remember how willing you are to do just anything imaginable on this planet to improve your partner’s life? You take extra care, just to make sure your partner was happy.

Think of improving your customer’s life by adding some extra value.

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One of the great ways to add extra value to your customers and which won’t cost you a fortune is to give them useful, free information which can drastically improve their lives. This could be done in the form of a free e-book or a free video bootcamp. For example, if you sell heating devices, write a free e-book on how to save money on central heating, or if you are an internet marketer create a free video bootcamp on how to improve a list building strategy.

2. Remember anniversaries

Your spouse remembers your anniversary, so you better remember it too (if you don’t want to risk some serious talks).

Your customers also have their anniversaries or special days.

The best surprise you can make is sending a message or a postcard to your customer for his or her birthday. If you don’t have this data, then you can send a nice message thanking them for their purchase or business on the anniversary of the first time they did business with you.

3. Surprise your customer

Life can be dull if there are no surprises, when everything is predictable.

Remember how happy your spouse was when you brought a bouquet of flowers home on a regular working day, with no particular reason? Or, what a surprise you made when you prepared an exceptionally nice dinner with all these candles on the table for your friends?

To retain your customers don’t think of them just when you are preparing your new offer. Call them sometimes just to say hello and ask them how life is going. And don’t talk about your product or service. They will definitely remember your call and they will buy from you again because they will feel somebody is taking care of them.

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If you have a large database of customers, send them a personal message just to remind them you are thinking of them. Some life quotes work nicely, especially if you add a personal comment.

4. Try to be less formal, more personable

Of course, some businesses have to be formal to be credible. But even behind a very formal business, there are still people. So why not finish your next letter with “Have a sunny day” instead of a well worn-out “Best regards”?

5. Find out something you have in common

Find out at least one thing you have in common with your customer on a personal level. It could be that you both have a dog. Dog owners always make a strong connection with each other. There is always so much to say about dogs. It could be a hobby, a preferred dish, whatever as long as you both enjoy doing or having it.

Finding something personal you have in common with your customer could be a big winner and also a very enjoyable way to retain your customers.

6. Speak on a personal level

People are striving for a personal touch. They are tired of the corporate, lifeless attitude.

Telling your customers about some of your personal experiences can make a big difference. It could be just telling them how you spend your weekend with your family on a trip to the mountains or how your kids were competing in a dance tournament.

Things are changing even in big corporations. A few months ago Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, openly confessed he is a gay. What happened after that?

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Financial Times selected him for Person of the Year–not just because of his great work at Apple but also because of his open-minded speaking of his personal life and not fearing rejection.

7. Be straightforward

To be straightforward is a  delicate thing but it could win your customer’s heart.

Just remember times when you have told your spouse exactly what you thought and it happened to be just the opposite of her opinion. Okay, it didn’t always work very well but then again she might appreciate you more for your honesty.

Sometimes taking this kind of risk pays off when you want to retain your customers.

Let’s say you have a fashion boutique and a customer wants a skirt you, as a professional, think doesn’t fit her. Tell your customer what you think in a polite way and your customer will probably appreciate your honest opinion. You could follow up with a suggestion for a different skirt that you think would look great on her.

Forget the old saying, “Customer is king”. Nowadays you will do better if you think, “Customer is friend”. And if you are a real friend, when necessary, you say things as they are.

8. Ask your customers what they think of your service or product

To successfully retain your customers, you must constantly improve your service or product. Ask your customers how they would rate your service or product from 1 to 10. They will appreciate it because they will feel you take seriously their opinion.

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You can even send out comment cards or email your customers for anonymous feedback. There are great online services that will help you track your customer’s responses and get the feedback you need to improve. Don’t stop improving.

9. Give your customers bonuses

Bonuses always work and they are a great way to retain your customers. They work much better than discounts.

When you put a discount on your product, you are telling your customer that your product is not as good as you thought it to be. But when you give your customers a bonus, something extra, they see it as getting something special and so they feel special, too.

10. Be an interesting person

Think again of your efforts to win the heart of your spouse: Your spouse liked you (and hopefully still does) because of your character, because she or he likes the way you talk and the way you think.

You need to understand that your customers buy you first and only then your service or your product. When trying to retain your customers bring out your personality.

So, the next time you write an email or pick up the phone to contact your customer, think about what works great in your relationship with your spouse, or your friends, and you will not just successfully retain your customers but you will also enjoy the process.

Featured photo credit: Adult Bag Bags Buy Buyer Consumer Customer Cute/PublicDomainPictures via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on April 17, 2019

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

10 Essential Soft Skills That Will Help Advance Your Career

What’s the secret of professional success? Some of it lies in the mastery of your discipline and all the technical skills you have to carry out your job; but a much bigger part lies in the soft skills list you possess.

Soft skills are your people or relationship skills—how well you get along with others and your ability to communicate and collaborate—as well as the personal characteristics you bring to the job, such as optimism, a can-do attitude and the motivation to work hard. These skills are not always easy to point out, but their absence can cause serious problems and negatively affect the whole work atmosphere.

They say that hard skills will help you get the job, but soft skills will help you get along—and get ahead. With that in mind, here’s the top-10 essential soft skills list to help you advance your career.

1. Communication Skills

Communication skills are hands-down the most sought-after soft skill that bosses want, and this one ability covers a lot of ground.

To communicate well, you have to listen carefully, interpret the context of the conversation, express yourself clearly, persuade others of your point of view, check your body language and use an engaging presentation style that won’t intimidate or bore your audience. That’s a big ask!

Your personality traits can influence the way you communicate with others. For instance, some people get straight to the point and center their arguments around facts and logic; others are cooperative and sensitive to how others feel. Both these approaches are equally valuable but there can be misunderstandings if you don’t understand where the other person is coming from.

Taking a comprehensive personality test can help you understand why you communicate the way you do and where your blind spots are. It can also help you understand other communication styles is so you can tailor your communication to the person you’re dealing with.

After all, connecting with your conversation partner is the hallmark of good communication.

2. Flexibility

Change is an essential part of any business. Companies need employees who are flexible enough to work with new initiatives, open to new ideas, and generally are able to tough it out when things don’t go as planned.

Research has found a link between job performance and flexibility over the long term because there will be times when you have to step outside your routine and rise to fresh challenges that didn’t exist before.

Being flexible doesn’t mean you have to hop into a new task or job role like an expert. Rather, it’s about showing you’re willing to accept new responsibility and learn different things.

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Bosses look for people who are prepared to step outside their comfort zones and are open to alternative solutions when their first idea doesn’t work.

3. Being a Team Player

Working on a team can be challenging but learning to do it well can definitely help you get ahead in your career. Employers look for people who can negotiate, cooperate and manage conflicts with other people to achieve a common goal. That includes the ability to build lasting relationships with customers and clients.

What makes a good team player? Essentially, it’s someone who knows the goal and knows her role. Employers look for evidence that you know your strengths, your responsibilities and how you can best contribute to the team, then put those skills into action by sharing ideas and communicating in a respectful manner. That’s the definition of being a good team player.

This is another area where taking a personality test can help you get ahead. When teams work together, each member brings a unique set of skills and qualities to the group. Research has shown that different combinations of personalities affect how teams collaborate and how productive they are.

Knowing who you are, and how you work on a team, can drive new insights and open the door to better teamwork.

4. Positive Mental Attitude

There are plenty of things you can’t change at work, like the people you work with or the fact that the printer is broken again. The one thing you can change is how much you let these things bother you.

Bosses like people who are calm, rational and upbeat—those who diffuse tensions in the workplace, not get all grouchy and go around slamming doors.

Studies show that people who maintain a sunny disposition have better relationships at work, are happier in their jobs and make better decisions than those who whine and complain. Some suggest that a positive mental attitude can also make you live longer—which means it’s beneficial for every area of your life![1]

It’s not always easy to keep a “glass half full” mentality when work is stressful and the deadlines are piling up. But there are some things you can do to help maintain a positive attitude. Laughing at your unfortunate circumstances keeps the work environment positive, and taking “sanity” breaks can help you keep your cool in high-pressure situations.

Managers look for positive mental attitude in a team member that is ready for a promotion, so it really does pay to keep your cool in challenging situations.

5. A Strong Work Ethic

People with a strong work ethic are committed to the role, persevere when things get tough and are inspired by challenge. These people are ambassadors for the organization, and will always be seen as top talent and ideal candidates.

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If you can exhibit this skill, then expect to be seen as a great candidate, eligible for new opportunities and positions throughout your career.

Since a strong work ethic can mean different things to different people, it helps to show specific examples of your exceptional work ethic during a performance appraisal or interview. For instance, you might talk about:

  • A time when you persisted in the face of challenges and did not shy away from hard work.
  • How you volunteered to help with projects even though these tasks did not form part of your job description.
  • The networking, workplace learning and skills betterment you’ve undertaken, which shows ambition and drive (people with a strong work ethic have those qualities in spades).
  • How you own your mistakes and never, ever point the finger of blame at others.

For help with building a strong work ethic, check out these tips: How to Build a Reliable Work Ethic

6. Public Speaking

Who’s terrified of public speaking? Pretty much everyone, since public speaking is America’s number one fear, ahead of death at number five and loneliness at number seven.

Yet, according to Warren Buffett, mastering this one skill you could increase your personal value by 50 percent.[2] That’s huge!

If you’re not natural at public speaking, you’re in good company. Buffett had to work hard to overcome his stage fright and once dropped out of a public-speaking course before it started—because he was afraid of public speaking! He eventually realized that he needed to build up his confidence by just doing it; over and over in front of small groups.

For a more structured approach, Toastmasters International teaches public speaking and leadership skills through a variety of pathways. Membership of this non-profit looks good on your resume but the real payoff will come when you can put your newfound skills to use on the job or in the interview room.

Or, you can check out this advice: The Ultimate Public Speaking Tips to Hook and Impress Any Audience

7. Integrity

From a manager’s point of view, the two integrity skills that will set you apart are:

  • Always doing what you say you will do
  • Owning an error instead of minimizing or hiding it

…even when no one is around to check up on you.

There are lots of people who have climbed the ladder without scruples, but they are not the people who others trust, respect and support when promotion time comes around.

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Behaving with integrity is a safe and consistent way to enhance your reputation and achieve your professional goals.

8. Managing Your Time

Phone calls, texts, Slack pings, meetings, huddles, side projects, multitasking—we are busier today than any generation before us. There’s no denying the workplace is an incredibly distracting place to be.

A lot of us have traded effectiveness for busyness which we wear as a badge of honor, both as a proxy for productivity and to show our value to the company. But what bosses want, what they really, really want, is someone who actually gets stuff done on time.

Time management is not merely the art of being on time, but of managing your time so you focus on the projects that really matter and add value to the business. This means prioritizing well, sticking to schedules, delegating, and not getting distracted by tasks that are easier to perform or less important. It means planning ahead and learning when it’s appropriate to say no.

Time management can be a tough skill to maintain, but not a difficult one to pick up. Monitor your actions for a few days—how long do your tasks take to finish? What’s interrupting you? What causes you to lose focus? Once you have the answers to these questions, you can set a schedule for yourself to make sure you’re spending your time wisely and this valuable asset is never wasted.

These 20 Quick Time Management Tips to Super Boost Your Productivity are also great to try.

9. Assertiveness

In any workplace, you typically will find people with the following conflict styles:

  • Passive: Those who go out of their way to avoid conflict.
  • Passive-aggressive: Those who express their negative feelings through actions rather than words.
  • Aggressive: Those who respond to conflict in a hostile and rude manner. These people get their opinion heard but they won’t make any friends in the process.
  • Assertive: People who stick up for their rights while still respecting the rights of others.

Managers look for assertiveness above all other styles because it allows decisions to be made without conflict or alienating people.

How do you use this information for yourself?

It starts with understanding your personality so you can anticipate how you will react when conflict arises and address your own shortcomings. Then, you can start influencing the team for top results, and securing your own career advancement in the process.

Learn how to be assertive and gain respect:

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How to Be Assertive and Stand up for Yourself the Smart Way

10. Creative Thinking

LinkedIn recently analyzed over 50,000 skills that employers search for when looking for candidates to find out what skills are currently in demand.[3] Taking the number-one slot on the 2019 soft skills list was creativity: the ability to solve problems and think outside the box.

Creativity is about bringing fresh, and sometimes unorthodox, ideas to the table. This helps companies to innovate, and companies that do not innovate will not survive very long.

How do you showcase your creative thinking skills? The golden rule is to participate.

Be brave and share your ideas during group brainstorming sessions. Volunteer to run a society, networking event or recruitment drive. Ask “what if” questions: “What if we add this information to the client welcome pack?” “What if we eliminate step 3 from the process?”

These activities demonstrate that you’re prepared to go beyond “business as usual” towards creative problem solving—an ability that will serve you every day, all throughout your career.

You can learn to unleash your creativity power:

What Is Creativity? We All Have It, and Need It

Final Thoughts

The good news? Every item on this soft skills list can be learned. Although you may feel lacking in certain areas, taking an inventory of your strengths and weaknesses will allow you to focus in on the areas that you’ll benefit from developing.

So take an inventory of your personality, skills, and talents. This will give you a baseline for your communication style, attitude to change, conscientiousness and more. You can then identify your weak areas and develop strategies for improving your team-building, assertiveness and conflict skills.

The better news? The effort is worth it. Developing your soft skills opens the door to a new job or a promotion, and helps you succeed once you get there.

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Featured photo credit: Rachael Gorjestani via unsplash.com

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