Customer Engagement

3 Ways to Consistently Delight (and Retain) Your Customers

Start by meeting their expectations rather than trying to exceed them.
3 Ways to Consistently Delight (and Retain) Your Customers
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Guest Writer
CEO and Founder of Varsity Tutors
4 min read
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Acquiring a new customer can cost a business six to seven times more than retaining an existing customer. While it is fairly obvious that return customers are valuable for a myriad of reasons, what is less obvious is how to engender enthusiasm and loyalty in your current and future clients. How can you ensure their repeat business by continually impressing them? In many cases, these three simple strategies are a great foundation for delighting your customers over and over again.

Related: I Started Saying 'No' to These 6 Things. My Life and My Business Got a Lot Better.

1. Meet basic expectations and needs before you attempt to exceed them

You create loyalty by helping your customers solve their problems quickly and easily. Perceived effort is a key metric for customers, as well as one that is influenced by their interpretation of their experience more so than the actual effort that is exerted. This means that you must ensure that your customers feel their interaction with your organization is simple.

Take this scenario. Let's say an individual orders an item from your website. The order is delayed, and the customer must call or email you to rectify the situation. You ultimately offer him or her free overnight shipping to compensate for the delay. But, there is a great deal of friction in this scenario. Instead of meeting the customer's need (to immediately fulfill the order in a timely manner), he or she has to put forth additional effort to receive the item. And in an effort to exceed expectations, you incur the cost of expedited shipping.

A better option is to implement a system that minimizes delayed orders. Perhaps you purchase a software program that tightly integrates an item's stock with the listings on your website. Your customer receives the product or service in his or her cart, and your opportunity to delight is not hindered by a frustrating experience.

Related: 25 Common Characteristics of Successful Entrepreneurs

2. Provide "next steps" guidance following a purchase.

Consider the information that you provide once an individual has made a purchase. Most businesses include the contents of the order in an email, as well as the total cost, but can you further anticipate your customers' future needs in order to offer a low-effort experience? For instance, can the total cost be divided into its components (i.e. convenience fee, shipping fee, taxes, etc.)? When should your customer expect his or her order to arrive? Can you include a tracking number or status in your email? Will someone need to be present to sign for delivery?

Including this information helps companies and customers manage expectations, and it streamlines the delivery process. If a customer does not know that he or she must be home to collect a package, for example, the individual is just as likely to blame your business as he or she is to blame FedEx, UPS or USPS.

Organizations that offer services can provide next steps, as well. Perhaps your purchase confirmation includes guidelines for maximizing the service, or maybe you automatically send reminder emails for any scheduled appointments.

Related: 9 Steps to Increase the Value of Your Business

3. Personalize your relationship

Small acts of personalization can be powerful when building and maintaining relationships with your customers. Personalization can be as simple as inserting individuals' names into an email campaign or scheduling "Happy birthday!" messages to be automatically emailed on the appropriate dates. There are a number of email programs that allow you to leverage technology in order to personalize your messaging.

One form of more complex personalization involves recommending new products or services based on previous purchase history. According to a 2015 survey of marketers, this form of personalization has the highest return on investment.

Customer churn is an unavoidable aspect of business, but delighting -- and retaining -- your clients can help you lessen its overall impact. Meeting basic expectations and needs, outlining "next steps," and personalizing your communications are all critical to continually impressing your customers.

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