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Image courtesy of Blake Wisz
Public Relations Startup

How Do You Keep Your Customers Coming Back?

You did all that work to acquire that customer. You created marketing materials, enticed them to visit your website or store, collected their contact information, sent them newsletters, special offers and more. Then you convinced them to buy your product. What if you put that much effort in retaining each and every customer?

Customer service. Customer retention. Often it is an afterthought. Or it places a distant second to customer acquisition, the initial sales and marketing process. 

The truth is that retaining a customer year after year is an important path to profitability. Companies that don’t have to perpetually replace customers but keep adding them are the companies that grow.

We talked with several entrepreneurs and consultants about how they suggest you keep customers coming back.

Cultivate Personal Relationships with Clients

Alison McGregor, founder of Chainsmith Bike Shop in Australia:

“Apart from maintaining customer data to keep in contact, the key to ensuring your clients come back is to know them intimately. I’m not talking about asking them to join you for the next family Christmas dinner. But you need to invest time to identify and research who exactly you want to serve and their problems you can solve.”

Ashley Piszek-Rothenberger, founder of MISS SWISS, a make-up case brand based in Hatfield, PA:

“First and foremost, we are making sure that we are listening to our customers’ comments and suggestions…social media is an important component of our customer engagement. We post consistently and respond to our customer comments to ensure they feel heard and know we care. When a customer is active on our social media, we make sure to reciprocate and like and comment on their posts when appropriate.”

Emma Vollrath, founder and CEO of Emma Lou the Label, an online activewear brand:

“Establishing a relationship with your customers is essential to keeping an audience. I started to develop a relationship with my audience by earning their trust. You can do this by providing testimonials, reviews, and proof that what you have will serve them in a positive way. I also love to show my audience what I’m designing next. I ask a variety of questions through Instagram stories based on fabric type and design ideas and get their opinion on what it is I’m thinking of releasing. It feels like they are designing with me! Lastly, I make sure to send a handwritten note with every order explaining how grateful I am for their business. Little gestures of gratitude for your customers is key!”

Communicate Clearly with Clients

Ina Coveney, the founder of Ina Nutshell, LLC, a business coaching company in Wakefield, MA:

“Most of my customers are repeat customers. They keep coming back because I continuously provide free training and information about the struggles they are going through at the moment. This is not by accident. Last year, 50% of my customers came from me running market research interviews with them. If there was one thing I wish everyone did was to stop believing they are too advanced in their business to run market research interviews, and realize what an incredible opportunity it is to get customer loyalty.”

Andrea Elibero, RN-BSN, Certified Online Business Manager and Founder of Dancing Leaf Solutions, a business management company based in Miami:

“I communicate effectively and own up to my mistakes. Just like in any relationship, communication is key! I don’t keep my clients in the dark. I send them weekly summaries of what I did and when I make a mistake (which is bound to happen at some point), I own up to it. I tell them why I believe it happened and how I will prevent that from happening again in the future.”

Elyse Flynn Meyer, President and Founder of Prism Global Marketing Solutions, an inbound marketing and sales agency in Phoenix, Arizona: 

“I have found that transparency, accountability, and responsibility are what keep our customers returning for our services…If a company and its people are transparent, accountable, and responsible, I will continue to be a customer, and I see that with our customers as well. To do this, we use a project management tool so our clients can always see where their projects are, who is managing what initiatives, and timelines. We also have weekly meetings with our clients so we can gather any necessary information from them and vice versa. It helps to keep the lines of communication open to continue to foster that relationship.”

Help Educate Your Clients

Erum Ilyas, MD is a dermatologist and the founder and CEO of AmberNoon, a clothing line based in Wayne, PA that champions sun protection:

“The most effective way I have found to gain and retain customers is to simply provide them with the educational resources they need to drive their overall wellness goals. In other words, not just selling products but also teaching and explaining, so that our patients can recognize the role our products and services play in their day-to-day life is essential.”

Paris Sabo, MD is a breast cancer surgeon and the co-founder and COO of Dr. Brite, an organic cleaning product company based in Fullerton, CA:

“At Dr. Brite, we mainly focus on educating our audience on our social media platforms to keep them coming back–especially as the pandemic continues throughout the world and everyone is spending a lot of their time on their phones. Being a cleaning essentials company, we sell some of the most needed products right now…so instead of just promoting sales, we also like

to educate our followers on how to live a healthier lifestyle…We may post a giveaway to get more email subscribers and then every Sunday I write a helpful informational post to our subscribers talking about different relevant ways to stay happy, healthy, and clean.” 

Provide Incentives

Katherine Swift, owner of Resin Obsession, a resin supply company based in Gainesville, FL: 

“A couple of years ago, we started a customer rewards program. They love earning discount codes for their repeated business, plus the opportunity to get products you can’t get any other way!”

Jacqueline Talsky, founder and CEO of Flower + Stone, an online clean beauty brand based in Los Angeles:

“In every order from Flower + Stone, I include skincare, makeup, and other samples of some of the products that are part of our collection. Not only does this allow our customers to experience more products and find new favorites, but this is also a way for us to give just a little bit more to our customers in an exciting way! We also include a 20% discount code for next orders. These two factors, combined with a constantly growing assortment of products, result in return and happy customers!”

Create A Welcoming Community

Camille Chulick, co-founder of Averr Aglow Skincare, a natural skincare brand based in Atlanta: 

“We run a busy community on social media where we talk about a lot more than just our products. We share our stories and troubles and worries along with tutorials and inspirational posts. Our loyal customers are rewarded with loyalty points, referral bonuses, and genuine engagement on social media.”

Elizabeth Davis, founder and CEO of Shedavi, a natural beauty and wellness brand based in Atlanta:

“Customers want an experience. Especially with the effects of Covid-19, people are looking for an escape. That’s why it’s important to create an entire lifestyle around your products. At Shedavi, we create a community where customers can fully embrace and indulge in a vegan lifestyle through multiple entry points like our Facebook group. Here, they can exchange tips and discuss their hair journeys, creating more brand loyalty in the process.”

Bonus Tips:

Corinna Dickenbrok, founder and CEO of Vanilla Sand, a sustainable swimwear brand based in Lisbon, Portugal:

“We target our ads to those clients who have already [purchased products from us]. Since they already liked what we do, it is more likely that they [will buy from us again].” 

Ashlee Dozier, owner of Anuket Luxury Apothecary, a fine fragrance company in Tampa, Florida:

“We believe that having our founder, Ashlee, be a main part of our brand by sharing the story of how Anuket came to be, helps our customers understand that they are buying from a proudly woman-owned small business. She is very present on our social media accounts, speaks often on podcasts and media outlets, and tells her story on the company website. Her visibility provides a personal touch that allows customers to want to root for the success of Anuket.”

McGregor: 

“Know your client. First, establish your ideal client…Every few months I return to my method of listing 100 problems my clients encounter regarding my industry. Your clients may experience discomfort, lack of confidence, [inability] to exercise or [incapability] of doing things they love. Whatever the issues, make a list and then give an answer every single one. Each answer provides abundant content topics to share with your existing clients and the world in general. Whatever the issues, make a list and then give a solution for every single one.”

What methods do you use to retain your customers? Have you tried any of the methods listed above? If so, did you find them successful? Let us know in the comments below!

About the author

Nicole DeSimone

Nicole DeSimone is a writer based in the Boston area. She earned a B.A. in English and Journalism from Simmons University. In addition to reading and writing, she loves dance, nature walks, and old movies. You can always email her at nicole.desimone4@gmail.com.

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