Customer Retention

Never Stop Wooing Your Customers and They Will Never Leave You

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It’s no fun getting dumped. As an entrepreneur, you take it personally when your customers stop buying your product or using your service. After all, your product is the result of your hard work and vision; you created it, and nursed it into being.

Here are several battle-tested interactions that will help you build deeper relationships with your customers, boost retention, grow your customer base, and enhance your brand. 

Charm them from the get-go.

When I ran an e-learning company, every time a new user registered on our site, we included cheesy pickup lines in our welcome email:  

  • “Wanna get some coffee? Because we like you a latte.”
  • “If you were a vegetable, you’d be a cute-cumber.”
  • “If nothing lasts forever, will you be our nothing?”

Yup, it’s cheesy, cheesy stuff, but people loved it. It set a tone that we were different and fun. However corny these lines were, the sentiment was light-hearted and clear: we were telling our new users that we liked them. Ongoing newsletter open rates were consistently high as we continued to use clever subject lines and deliver relevant, concise content.

Related: Before Falling in Love With Your Great Idea, Find Out If Anybody Wants It

Show them who you really are.

When customers first buy from you, let them know that you’re more than a product or service. Give them a sense of who you are. When I bought an Aviator Nation shirt, a tag sewn into the inside of the shirt featured a note from the founder that read, “This garment is rad. I know, because I made it. It will become even more rad with age.”

I was not just buying a shirt; I was enjoying the vision of a founder who cared about and stood behind her product, with a bit of casual edge that fit the style of the brand she’d created. I’ve been a loyal customer ever since that first purchase.

Be clever in learning more about them.

I once ran a site for college students, and we wanted to get as much information as possible about users when they registered. But with each additional question we asked, more people dropped off before completing registration. Therefore, we kept the registration to four necessary fields. But about once every five times users subsequently logged in, we showed them a fun modal that prompted them to give us more information in a whimsical way.

For example:  “Our global network of high-powered analytics engines have deduced your favorite hobby to be competitive dog grooming.” We then asked them to correct it in the “.00001 percent chance our ground-breaking algorithms were incorrect.”

It was obviously absurd, but users entered their correct answer about 70 percent of the time. We ended up with a lot of information on each user, and were then able to make better recommendations, improve the relevance of newsletter content and generally serve our customers in a more personal way.

Related: 5 Secrets to Increasing Customer Retention -- and Profits

Deliver quirky messages they love to read.

People receive a barrage of special offers and announcements from businesses on major holidays like Christmas and Valentines Day. Why not stand out from the crowd and celebrate something colorful and quirky?

There’s a holiday for everything now: Happiness Day, Yellow Fruit Day, International Belly Laughing Day, etc. Once, on April 20th (National Weed Day), I sent out an email to users saying, “Our prices aren’t celebrating 4/20 because they’re not high.”  We even created our own, National Pants Day, and offered 50 percent off to all “full- or part-time pants wearers.”

If you make up your own holidays, you can run special holiday offers any time you want. Test your response rates for emails with special offers for something like National Pants Day versus the 4th of July. Pants will beat patriotism every time.

Use the two magic words.

I once consulted for a major software company to help them improve customer service. We ran an A/B test where, after hearing a customer’s problem, the first words from a call agent or the first words of a response email to the customer were, “I’m sorry to hear that….” The satisfaction rating with the support interchange soared. We then added, “I’m sorry, if I were having this problem, I’d be frustrated as well.” Again, satisfaction scores improved. Every interaction with a customer matters. Apologize, empathize, assist and thank. It works like a charm.

As an entrepreneur and marketer, I care about building products and winning new customers. But keeping them is the most rewarding part. Your customers clearly like the product you’ve created since they’re using it. Don’t be afraid to let your personality come through to build a more human relationship with them. People like people. When they see that you and your company are people with a vision and passion for the product you’ve created, they are more likely to form a real relationship with you. When the relationship is strong, you are that much more likely to avoid the “It’s not you, it’s me…” from the person who completed you.

Related: Stop, Drop and Apologize: Nest Halts Sales of Smoke Alarm Over Serious Flaw