If 2020 felt like a crash course to you in “how to only do business online,” you are not alone. You might have dusted off your laptop in the first quarter of 2020 and researched how to pivot your business towards e-commerce. Or, you might have been poised all along to transition towards an online-only business.
Wherever you were on that scale of readiness, you might have noticed a shared camaraderie among your fellow business owners. You were truly all in it together, sharing information, know-how, and all-important technology tips. Hopefully, this article will continue to energize your 2021 by turning your eye towards growing your business in this digitized world.
To help you retain customers in 2021 — because we all know it’s easier and less expensive to keep existing customers — we’ve gathered the best advice and deep-dive reads into customer loyalty and experience.
As you read on, let’s think about two things. If your acquisition strategy for new customers will lead to customer retention, and if you are keeping loyalty.
Ready? Let’s go!
After-sales strategies for customer retention
The customer journey is important to retention. From the first interaction, to the crucial next steps in your sales funnel, and your after sales service, everything needs to run smoothly.
1. Use reviews to tweak your customer experience
If you improve your product or service’s perceived value, both new and existing customers are more likely to return. Start with ‘review mining,’ where you search for what customers say about your business.
Make sure you adjust your processes so that new customers will create word-of-mouth marketing for your brand. This can quickly change the review environment to a positive one. To a certain extent, valued customers will ignore future price increases and perceive you as a ‘quality’ purchase.
Depending upon what you find out, a deeper dive into creating customer experience and value will help. Need more information? Read my recent blog on how to improve your welcome and after-sales services after Black Friday.
2. Craft great content for your discounts and offers
Sending email promotions is the top way to reach customers. The kind of promotion content that zings focuses on how your product and services make their lives better and not so much on why your brand is excellent. For easy ways to create great content targeting your new and existing customers read 8 tips for a successful email marketing campaign.
3. Create repeat business with after-sales services
Your after-sales interactions with customers sharpen their perception of the quality and value they receive. After-sales services happen during the warranty or post-purchase period and include:
- How to buy spare parts
- How to get repairs
- How to handle inquiries and customer care
- How to upsell or add accessories to sales carts
- Offers of expert assistance (and charges)
Because customers often need another product or service after their first purchase, secondary market transactions are commonplace. Is everything running smoothly? A focused review of these will show you any after-sales gaps in services.
After-sales strategies for building customer loyalty
The second string to your bow is to provide opportunities for customer loyalty and to improve customer relationships. Targeting will help you keep the right kind of customer for your business. Let’s take a look at what will help you to do so.
4. Stay in touch on social media
An astonishing 93% of businesses using Facebook to promote their brands. Let’s explore why social media is useful to companies. We spoke to business owner Kerrie Jones who runs a traditional bricks and mortar travel agency. She says:
“I think for us, it is about getting the initial client to contact us through social, and then we operate a more personal service and speak to clients, which is how we get repeaters.”
“We’ve seen existing clients recommending us on Facebook… it’s really helped us keep in touch, get our messages out and advise them on Covid, travel procedures, etc.”
Many businesses experiencing difficulty during Covid-19 will find it helpful to use social media to message existing clients. But what about attracting new ones? Kerry says,
“…we can see the likes and number of people who have seen a post, we also comment on other posts where people were looking for travel … and we have had several bookings from this.”
Social contact improves customer engagement and attracts new customers who are browsing. Recently, Crowthorne Travel has started to use Instagram, so we asked Kerry for her top tips for any business working with social:
“Post your page on local community sites regularly; many allow advertising once a week. Keep your page up to date with facts and your latest offers. We tend to try and post something once a day now — before Covid, it was 2–3 times a week.”
Key takeaways are to keep things local, post more often and network your area/industry for free advertising spaces. Want some inspiration to maximize your message power? Read 30 great ideas for web and social posts by Terri Coles on Hootsuite.
5. Capture customers online with SEO and PPC
Designing PPC advertising and fleshing out an organic search/SEO plan can help customers find your brand online. PPC and SEO are top acquisition tools and, to a certain extent, enhance after-sales. If a customer already knows your business from search, this generates brand recognition. Targeting the message and being honest and authentic makes them more likely to buy from you because they are more informed about their purchases.
6. Install QR codes with mobile (and desktop) e-payments
Once browsing on or offline, customers need to buy. When pivoting businesses to the new no-touch payments and billings systems this year, what was surprising is how well customers responded to using payment apps on their mobiles and online shopping checkouts. It’s become crucial to have this in place for customer acquisition.
Consider, for example, how things have changed at your favorite restaurant. You sit down and use your smartphone to scan and upload a menu, you check in with the health service using a QR (Quick Response) code, and then scan another QR code presented to you on a paper bill.
Any chance you wondered why we’ve not always had this? It’s all so easy!
If you want to try this out, open your camera on your phone and hover over this QR code (made with Flowcode.com) below on your screen. See where this code takes you?
You probably feel tech-savvy (and proud) of the effort your local restaurant has made. Make sure you keep up to date with no-touch payments and how to install a QR code and payment app too.
7. Create discount coupons
Unpredictable lockdowns and no-touch rules led to the rapid adoption of mobile instant payments. So it wasn’t a giant leap to introduce discount coupons via apps. According to Juniper Research, 5.3 billion coupons on mobile-based loyalty cards will be redeemed by 2022. This represents fourfold growth since 2017 and 1.3 billion more redemptions.
With a payment app you’ve installed (for example, Shopify is used in Tip 8, below), simply use a free QR discount coupon generator to create coupons. You can also send these out to customers on business email with a simple copy/page, or stick them up around your building.
8. Upload your customer reward program
Juniper (above) also forecasts four billion loyalty cards will be loaded onto mobiles by 2022, up from two billion in 2017.
A points-based loyalty card is the most common aftersales and retention strategy in businesses where high frequency, short-term purchases are the norm.
For example, coffee shops might make offers like: Get your coffee and donuts in-house or to-go, and your tenth donut is free.
This market has mainly stuck to stamping cards over-the-counter — until now. Unable to see customers in-person, retailers were quick on the uptake to link their cards to mobile loyalty apps. Square Loyalty states sellers who add a digital loyalty program experience 40% more website visits.
9. Add 24/7 customer service
Trading internationally? Unless you want customers to wait for answers or stay up all night in person manning the chat tool — your customers need 24/7 service. If you can’t stretch the budget to a call center, consider the alternative, a chatbot. This technology has improved and is now less clunky.
The surge in online shopping has increased the demand for bots to assist with recommended offers and incentives and address basic customer queries. Fast-tracked fresh with a makeover, you can expect better AI offerings in 2021. To see what’s new, have a look at this Acquire article on 11 Chatbot trends that help grow your business.
10. Plan a calendar of loyalty benefits for your customers
One thing is for sure. To grow your business, you need to explore ways to customize your calendar content and offers.
Loyalty calendars contain ideas which increase customer engagement with your brand:
- Business ‘birthday’ offers, seasonal treats, loyalty points, or competitions.
- Themed content linked to national events and your company story.
- Communication about new stock arrivals or upcoming sales.
Add personalization and variety to your communications. We like Twitter for providing topic and country-specific calendars and themes.
Stay focused on after-sales and customer retention
Remember, there’s a big buy-in factor at work. Many of your customers are newly savvy with mobile technology — and proud of that. This is your opportunity to refine payments, loyalty apps, and QR codes, improve customer acquisition and retention on your social and search, and easily operate a customer loyalty program now and in the future — all at the click of a button.
A final thought … you’re not alone. Run some of these ideas past a friend or business mentor and try something new. There are ways to potentially offer a boost to your bottom line by focusing on after-sales and customers. If you think this article will help you or someone else, please like or share.