Repeat Customers: What Makes Them Return?
Sooooo, I’m a business coach. (I may have mentioned that once or twice.)
When people start their collaboration with me, the first thing they want to work on is lead generation. And you know, duh, that makes sense. It’s super important. It pays the bills.
But that’s not the whole story. You don’t want people who just buy once. You want to build a great experience for each new customer so that once they sample working with you, they don’t want anyone else. You want loyal, repeat customers.
ProfitWell said that customer acquisition costs are steadily increasing for both B2B and B2C clients. And research by Bain & Company tells us that just by promoting client retention by 5% can increase profits by 25% to 95%!
So! You want to be, at least, as attractive 5 years into the relationship as you were when they first sampled your work.
The key is to make your clients feel seen, heard, and incentivized. Do that, and you’ll have repeat customers who double as an army of brand ambassadors.
In this blog, we’re going to unpack what makes customers into repeat customers. Here are 7 methods to make your clients come back to you.
Let’s start with the obvious - incentives. A loyalty program that gives repeat customers discounts, freebies or awards points to exchange for products gives you an instant advantage over a new, untried brand.
I mean, let’s face it, nothing creates loyalty like free stuff. Over ¾ of consumers say they’re likely to stay with a brand that has a loyalty program. They’re more likely to recommend them too.
So if you want to ramp up your rate of repeat customers, why not build some kind of rewards program?
You can base it on how much they spend, their number of transactions, or even make it action-based (like points for sharing something on social media or giving a review of a product or service).
Whatever you decide, just make it easy to understand and redeem.
Loyalty programs aren’t a great fit for all types of businesses, but it can really make repeat customers feel like they’re creating a nest egg with your business - one that makes them want to come back.
Repeat Customers Don’t Do Friction
Ease is another piece of low-hanging fruit when you’re trying to create repeat customers.
Think of Amazon. Whatever got you to the site in the beginning, you keep going back because it’s so easy. I mean, they have everything in one spot. It’s delivered to your door. And it arrives quickly - often by clicking once.
We think it’s the prices and selection - but nothing defines Amazon like the ease of sale. They have zero friction in their process.
Take a lesson from this. When it comes to repeat customers, don’t underestimate the power of laziness. Making your brand the easiest to understand, the simplest to engage with, and the most accessible will pay dividends.
Create a website that has minimal friction - one that loads easily, one that has simple navigation and very clear prompts. Don’t give potentially repeat customers any excuse to go somewhere else.
When they need something to remove a headache, make sure they remember you as the business that’s easy peasy.
Customer Service Superstars
This may seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how much it gets overlooked. There are customers out there - I would call them the best customers - who prioritize good customer service over anything else.
This means keeping your promises, being consistent on quality, being prompt on communication, and - you know - just being nice, open, and warm during interactions. Show them you have their best interest at heart.
Everyone’s heard the amazing Zappos customer service stories. They’ve become so famous for their service that most of us start out already intending to be repeat customers.
It costs so little to show consistent care about your clients, it’s nuts not to make it a priority.
Keep the Conversation Going
Humans like doing business with humans. So show them they’re not just a number to you. Once you start transacting with a client, you need to extend the conversation beyond that transaction, especially if you run a service-based business.
In fact, Forbes.com cites this ongoing communication as an essential way to increase your trustworthiness with clients. “If your company is service-based, client communication is especially important and can impact your company's success over the years,”
My point? You gotta engage with customers when they’re not in buying mode.
You most likely have their email if you did business with them, so send them opportunities to hear your online voice. Create content for them to engage with. Send newsletters, or links to blogs, or happy holiday messages.
Keep it relevant and respect their boundaries. Don’t just send a bunch of crap to their inbox. Put yourself in their shoes and consider what is a welcome message.
Oh - and be sure to use your name as a signature, not just the business name.
Keep it personal, warm, and low-pressure. It will feel more like a conversation - and not like you're in constant pitch mode. Ironically, that’s what can make you their go-to vendor.
Customize the Experience
Nowadays, we all expect to be catered to online, thanks to algorithms. But. Most of my business coaching clients are service providers. They don’t really do algorithms. But that’s fine.
Repeat customers respond to a different kind of customization when they’re seeking human-to-human service. A provider who listens and has a collaborative approach, one who responds to unexpected problems with flexibility…that’s way more valuable than any algorithm.
Regardless, of how you customize the client experience, just know that people don’t just buy more when the shopping experience seems made for them. They come back when it is too.
So…since you and I are not algorithms - if you want to create repeat customers for your service-based business, make sure you create a nuanced approach to finding what works for them.
Consider co-creating options while observing reasonable boundaries. Building a solution that’s customized will make them feel understood and like you’re the person with the answers.
You’ll be irreplaceable.
Feedback Can Create Repeat Customers
Give your clients a lot of opportunities to talk about their experience - especially if it’s a good one.
Yes, ask for testimonials, but also ask very specific questions. Surveys are fine, but we’re going for less of a cut-and-paste vibe here, so a specific ask on your part can make a difference.
If you have a chance, get them to narrate their positive experience as a story - even if you never use it in a testimonial. Getting them to re-live their experience can create a bond with you. It helps them feel heard and reinforces the good memories of your collaboration.
You can say something like, “Max, it’s been so great working with you. I’ve been wanting to tighten up our communication with our clients. Can I ask you, did you feel heard in our work together? Was there a way we over delivered on expectations? Underdelivered? How did you feel when you reached out to us?
It’s not just about getting an A+. It’s about re-telling the story of your time together.
More Than a Thank You
Last but not least, say thank you. But like…really say it.
It can be a handwritten note, but it doesn’t have to be. Even if you just write a lovely email or send a voicemail, you can let them know they’re not just a walking wallet.
Cite what was awesome about working with them. Tell them how satisfying it was to work on their need - whatever it was. And tell them how much you look forward to your future projects together.
Make it specific. Make it personalized. And be sure to leave a door open by inviting them to ask any questions that pop up later.
Make it clear that you appreciate them and that you’re always here to help.
Obvious? Apparently, Not
Some of these things may seem obvious, but…I really don’t think they are.
People may say “thank you” on a confirmation email, but do you really feel thanked?
The point is that repeat customers make a point of returning when there’s something about your business that can’t be replaced.
I mean, if you treat customers like numbers, that’s how they’ll treat you. So be present with them. Help them feel seen, and you can become the one business they can’t do without.
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