A lot of businesses, especially in recent years, have locked down a solid customer acquisition strategy. They know who they want as their customers, they know where to reach them, and they spend a lot of money doing just that. Customer acquisition is very important, and should definitely be a priority. As a busy business, often the focus immediately turns to how you’re going to get the next one. Don’t make this mistake!
Before shifting your gaze forward to who the next customer will be, look that new customer right in the eyes and hold their gaze. Every new (and existing) customer deserves your time, attention, and integrity. We’ve all heard the well-known finding that it’s significantly more expensive to acquire new customers than it is to retain a current one, and it’s also been found that existing customers tend to spend a whole lot more than new ones. And yet, we’re so often zeroed in on getting new customers, that we fail to properly nurture those we just acquired (and those who have been with us for a while). This is a surefire way to lose customers you’ve just gained, lose money and tarnish your reputation.
So, how do you make sure you’re giving proper TLC to each of your new customers? We’ve laid out a checklist for you covering your new customer’s first year for this very purpose. Enjoy!
Most companies will send an email to every new customer, but this email is usually automated and rather vague. There’s nothing wrong with using marketing automation tools, but when you’re first onboarding a new customer, you want them to know they matter… individually.
As soon as a customer buys your product for the first time, or signs on the dotted line to engage your services, aim to welcome them to your brand in a meaningful and delightful way. This should be more than just an email or their first invoice.
Depending on your industry, consider putting together a digital welcome package that is attractively designed and customized. If you’re a swim school welcoming a new family, this digital welcome package could include an overview of FAQs, the contact name (and picture) of someone they can contact directly with questions, and a printable coloring page for their child (bonus points for making this an aquatic theme). This digital package doesn’t have to be lengthy or costly for you to create; it just has to be something useful and inviting that they’ll remember.
Another idea is to send a physical mailer that welcomes them into your brand’s family. Include an appealing picture, message, or even rhyme, and easily put a smile on their face. You could also send a practical (and thoughtful) welcome gift, depending on your budget and number of customers. Something like a wall or desktop calendar is always useful, and you can customize it to appeal to your customer base. For instance, if your business is a fitness center, put a motivational quote on each page of the calendar. This could come in handy, and also will remind them of your business every day. Whatever you choose, be sure to avoid tchotchkes and put a personal touch on anything you send, so customers feel that sincere and very warm welcome.
Once you’ve welcomed your customers enthusiastically, don’t let complacency set in. Your goal at this point is to make them feel like they’re still being wooed. You don’t have to go to great lengths or spend a lot of money at this stage. Oftentimes, the smallest gestures can make all the difference. Ever notice how romantic relationships offer the same advice?
Consider sending an email with specially curated recommendations on products you think they’d like or offer a perk (maybe free shipping, a discount on the next order, or a free product) at no cost. If these options aren’t applicable in your business, simply send a handwritten note letting them know you appreciate their business. An unexpected act like this can boost customer satisfaction greatly.
Once you’re three or four months past a customer’s first transaction with your brand, it’s time to go a little deeper. This is a perfect time to equip them with the information and tools they might need to continue being loyal to your brand. Depending on your product or service, this could vary greatly. If you own a software business, you could offer some free training that helps them maximize their use of the software. But if your company offers services, you might have an opportunity to educate your client further about complexities in your industry they may not understand.
You can share information in the form of an e-book, a blog series, or a video tutorial. Or, if you have a lot of local customers, you could even host a free workshop that covers material that could be valuable to them throughout their engagement with you. Use customer FAQs as the inspiration behind this content, so you know you’re offering information/resources that your clientele can actually use. This step alone can greatly help retain customers, and also give customers an early chance to air any grievances or frustrations, so you can fix it then and there.
When a customer has been with you for about six to eight months, you might think you’re out of the woods. Surely, this individual is dedicated to you for life! Not so fast. At any point in the customer journey, a competitor could lure your loyal followers away from you with a compelling offer or the promise of better service. It’s important to never rest on your laurels and think you can coast from here.
At this stage, though, take a break from the overt selling. There’s a time and a place to reinforce your business’ value, to upsell and to provide information that relates to your products or services. But at this point, just simply share something they’ll get a kick out of. Whatever you choose to send shouldn’t include anything about your business (unless tangentially), and could be a funny email, an amusing book of quotes about their industry you send in the mail or something even more creative.
Ask whoever knows the customer best if they’ve gotten any insight into what that person would find entertaining. If not, brainstorm something you could send to any of your new customers that would tickle their funny bone. Just one word of caution: different folks have different levels of tolerance when it comes to humor. It’s always wise to avoid controversial topics and questionable humor. The goal is never to offend, but rather to entertain and let the customer know you’re still thinking of them.
Finally, as you approach a customer’s one-year anniversary with your business, make a point to call them and ask what they might need or want from you. Ask for candor, and for them to let you know if there’s anything you could do differently or better. Be prepared to take notes and use this information as you can.
If they seem thrilled with you, ask for a review or referral. If they have some concerns, do your best to quell them and share this with your team so others know how they can improve too. If it’s not realistic to call each customer or meet with them, based on your workload and number of customers, then find another way to connect with them personally. Try to avoid email if you can, so they can still feel the personal touch months and months after they first gave you a try.
Of course, every business is different. Some of these steps might work well with your industry, and others may not be suited for you and your customers. The main takeaway here is to map out the exact ways in which you’re going to continue showing your clientele some love, appreciation, and support – in the first year and beyond. This is what can help you acquire, and actually retain, loyal customers who naturally become brand advocates because of your stellar customer service. If you would like to know some more creative ways to build and maintain relationships with your current customers, please feel free to contact us!