Pop quiz: What’s five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing customer?
If you answered “acquiring a new customer”, you get a gold star. ⭐
Customer acquisition targets might hog the headlines in the C-Suite, but retention does all the heavy lifting when it comes to sustainable growth.
According to research from Harvard Business School, improving customer retention by just 5% could boost a company’s profits by anything from 25% to 95%. But to increase those rates, you’ll first need the right strategies in place.
In this guide, we explain why customer retention matters and how to calculate it, before sharing 15 tried and tested retention strategies (a mix of B2C and B2B) to keep your customers engaged and coming back for more.
Why Does Customer Retention Matter?
Customer retention matters because it’s typically cheaper than customer acquisition, gives you a clear indication of customer satisfaction, and highlights the strength of your customer service. But those aren’t the only reasons why it’s crucial.
There are a few other bottom-line benefits to prioritising retention:
- Increased profits: As mentioned above, retention can increase profits by 25-95%, simply because returning customers are easier to convince and don’t require as much advertising spend.
- Increased average order value: Returning customers are 67% more likely to spend more than new customers.
- Increased word-of-mouth: Existing customers are potential brand ambassadors, sharing positive experiences with friends and family.
How Do You Calculate Customer Retention Rate (CRR)?
To measure your customer retention rate, you need to know:
- The number of customers you had at the beginning of a period (S)
- The number of customers you have at the end of a period (E)
- The number of new customers gained within that period (N)
Then you plug those numbers into this simple formula:
[(E-N)/S] x 100 = CRR
Customer Retention Rate Example:
Let’s imagine your company had 2,000 customers at the beginning of the quarter and 1,600 customers at the end of the quarter. In that time, you added 100 new customers into the fold.
The formula would look like this: [(1600 – 100)/2000] x 100 = 75, giving you a 75% customer retention rate for that quarter.
15 Tried & Tested Customer Retention Strategies
Now you know what it is, why it matters, and how to calculate it, let’s look at 15 proven customer retention strategies. For ease, we’ve broken it down into 10 tips for B2C and 5 for B2B, although you can always pick and choose what works for you.
Ready? Let’s dive in.
10 Effective B2C Customer Retention Ideas
1. Leverage Hyper-Personalisation
Effective personalisation can drive a 10% to 15% revenue lift, according to McKinsey. But in the age of big data and AI analysis, the ability to personalise communication at a granular level is game-changing.
Let’s admit it. Customers are no longer wowed by their first name in an email greeting — they’ve come to expect that now. However, if you can segment your audience by their very particular traits, preferences, and behaviours, you can deliver a hyper-personalised campaign that makes each customer feel like an individual, not just a number.
Whether you use data insights to tweak messaging and tone, highlight related products, or tailor recommendations, creating a uniquely personal experience can help foster long-term loyalty. Customers who feel cared for and catered to will return time and again.
2. Promote Empathetic and Accessible Customer Service
Some companies seem to have an aversion to talking with their customers. They throw up obstacles like frustrating chatbots and far-flung call centres, keeping complaints and queries at arm’s length. Yet, all this does is alienate customers and drive them towards competitors.
Avoid the same fate by making empathetic, direct, and accessible customer service a cornerstone of your customer retention strategy.
Make it easy for customers to contact your business — and when they do, make sure your frontline staff are open and understanding, even if the problem is outside of your control.
3. Tap Into Shared Values
Most companies have values that underpin their mission and drive their actions on a daily basis. However, not all companies shout about those values to their customers.
Whether you champion diversity and inclusion, sustainability, transparency, or something else, sharing your values with your customer base can help them identify with your business and feel a stronger connection.
But don’t take our word for it! According to a study of over 7,000 consumers by Harvard Business School, 64% cited shared values as the primary reason for a strong brand relationship.
4. Pursue Customer Feedback (and Follow-Up)
The only way to find out what your customers truly think is to ask them. Conduct customer surveys, collect feedback across a range of areas, and pinpoint any underlying reasons for customer dissatisfaction.
Asking for feedback isn’t just an excellent way to stave off churn and keep customers engaged — it also demonstrates that you care about their opinions. And so long as you follow up on their feedback and address any issues they’ve highlighted, it shows you’re willing to go the extra mile to keep them happy.
Just remember to make your customer surveys an ongoing part of your customer retention strategy. A “once and done” approach means you’ll eventually be working from outdated data. Trends and opinions are changing all the time. Ask for feedback periodically to stay ahead of the curve.
Read more: Quantitative Vs Qualitative Data: Which Is Better For Decision-Making?
5. Help Customers Reflect in the Glow of Your Reputation
Regular customer feedback can help you uncover the things your customers are passionate about. Armed with this information, you can implement initiatives (or highlight existing ones) that align with their passions.
For example, let’s say that your research suggests your customers are environmentally conscious. You could start pledging a percentage of your profits to combat climate change and gear your messaging around the sustainability of your product or service.
In turn, your customers will enjoy the feel-good factor of associating with your brand, meaning they’re more likely to stick around for longer.
6. Don’t Cover Up Mistakes
As sure as night follows day, mistakes will happen in business. Whether it’s a billing error, a late delivery, a data breach, or a service outage, you’re bound to experience a bump in the road during your business journey.
From a customer retention perspective, the important thing is how you handle these bumps. If you try to hide them, blame them on someone else, or make excuses, you risk molehills becoming mountains. As a result, long-term customer relationships could be damaged — or lost altogether.
Instead, be transparent about mistakes, big and small. Express regret and explain what went wrong, why it happened, how it affects your customer, and – crucially – what you’re doing to fix it. This will reinforce trust in your business and strengthen customer loyalty.
7. Remove Refund Roadblocks and Cancellation Conundrums
While owning your mistakes can go a long way towards keeping your customers satisfied, it won’t always be enough to stop them from asking for a refund or cancelling their subscription.
With that in mind, one surefire way to guarantee a customer never buys from you again is to make refunds and cancellations practically impossible.
If they have to jump through hoops to make a return or cancel a subscription, it can put them off dealing with you in the future and may result in them bad-mouthing your business to other would-be customers.
Sometimes, you get the right customer at the wrong time. Retaining their goodwill can be every bit as important as retaining their business. If they can count on you to treat them fairly after the sale instead of casting them aside once you have their money, they’re far more likely to return (and stick around) next time.
8. Reward Customer Advocacy
Loyalty should go both ways. If you see a customer singing your praises on social media or a third-party review site, a simple thank you can make a huge difference.
However, you may want to think bigger than mere platitudes. Brand advocates can be an effective sales and retention tool, especially when you reward them with an engaging loyalty program.
Doing so not only incentivises repeat purchases and encourages higher spending but also boosts word-of-mouth referrals.
|Kleene can help you integrate referral software, CRMs, sales, marketing, and support platforms all in one place. Learn more about our product integrations here.
9. Empower Your Team to Wow Customers
Your customer service team is the face of your business. They’re on the frontline, building relationships, fielding questions, and putting out fires. As a result, they deserve your trust and encouragement to do what they feel is right in the moment (within reason) to maintain those relationships.
Allowing them the power to make a call on a refund, return, discount, or freebie without having to wait for permission could make all the difference when it comes to solving an issue and keeping a customer.
10. Use Social Proof & FOMO to Your Advantage
According to research, 97% of customers say online reviews influence their buying habits. Many consumers are more likely to trust the opinions and recommendations of family, friends, and fellow shoppers over branded content and online ads when making a purchase.
With this in mind, use social proof to your advantage and utilise customer testimonials and case studies in your retention efforts. This can be particularly useful when encouraging customers to upgrade to the next service tier or the newest version of your product.
And by sharing those positive experiences with your latest product or service, you could spark FOMO (fear of missing out) among existing customers, prompting them to upgrade and stick around for longer.
5 Brilliant B2B Customer Retention Tactics
11. Make Your Retention Efforts Proactive
No matter your niche, chances are you have competition. Whether it’s a little or a lot, your customers might be susceptible to a pitch from other high-promising, high-performing companies if you’re not careful.
When your customer retention is reactive, you’ll be on the back foot. Trying to convince customers to stay after they’ve been sweet-talked by a rival can be a tall order if you can’t match what they’ve been promised.
However, when you’re proactive, using predictive analytics to identify at-risk customers early, you can re-engage customers before they’re poached. This might be a refresher tutorial to help them make the most of underused features or a money-off voucher to prompt a purchase.
Either way, it shows you’re paying attention and you’re willing to do what it takes to keep your customers happy.
12. Make Onboarding About Your Customer (Not Your Product)
A good onboarding process should be detailed and personalised — however, there’s a fine line between educating your customers on product features and bombarding them with information.
The latter will only serve to overwhelm them. And if your customer isn’t engaged with your product and aware of its benefits from the outset, it could lead to them switching off and looking elsewhere further down the line.
To avoid this, carefully review your onboarding and ensure it’s segmented by use case or experience level. A customer-focused approach where each session is tailored to the specific needs and pain points of the individual you’re onboarding will help your retention efforts far more than a blanket, one-size-fits-all approach.
13. Be Hard to Replace
At first glance, this might seem like conflicting advice following the earlier tip about refunds and cancellations. However, the idea here is to highlight the features and benefits unique to your business, rather than make it difficult to leave.
If you can positively frame why customers cannot easily replicate their experience elsewhere, you’ll find it easier to hold onto them. A competitor comparison landing page can be a great way to achieve this. By laying out your costs, features, and USPs alongside your nearest competition’s offering, you can demonstrate to your customers why they’re already in the right place.
14. Don’t Rush Support
There’s an old proverb, “More haste, less speed”, which means the faster we try to accomplish something, the longer it can take.
This is often the case with modern online customer support. Agents are so focused on getting to a resolution quickly that they fail to solve the problem at the first time of asking. Yet, according to Gallup, customers are more likely to be satisfied with customer service that’s willing and helpful, rather than just fast.
If you make your customers feel heard and reassured that you understand their frustrations, they’re more likely to be patient as you address the issue. However, if you rush to the wrong conclusion, they could feel ignored and inclined to look elsewhere.
15. Train to Retain
Finally, an often overlooked part of customer retention is that the sale isn’t over just because the money’s in the bank.
Customers will only become repeat customers if they feel confident enough to use your product or service and get enough value to warrant buying again.
To that end, you must ensure your customers are sold on how to make the most of their purchases. Consider using one-to-one training, pre-recorded webinars, or a series of lifecycle emails to further educate them on the features and benefits of your product, and enhance trust in your brand.
Integrating Customer Retention Strategies with Kleene
These customer retention strategies require a steady mix of up-to-date data, cutting-edge tools, and the right mindset. Convincing customers to turn a one-off purchase into a long-term, loyal relationship won’t always come easy — but it doesn’t have to be complicated.
Kleene can help you connect, transform and visualise your data fast, delivering a wealth of insights to improve retention and drive growth across your business.
Predict churn rates, delight customers with personalised messaging, and improve on-time, in-full delivery thanks to hundreds of pre-built connectors and plug-and-play data apps, all powered by a modern, easy-to-use platform.