You know what they say in business – it’s less time-consuming and more cost-effective to retain an existing customer base vs having to rely on new business all the time. So what can you do to keep more of your existing customers without totally breaking the bank? Well, you’ve come to the right place because we’re about to lay out the best, easiest-to-implement practices for improving long-term customer retention!

Ensure a Smooth, Clean Onboarding Process

Whether your business involves selling products or services, convenience is the name of the game. The easier it is to get started, the more likely prospects (or leads) will be to follow through with converting into happily paying customers. Enabling the opposite (obstacles that could make onboarding difficult) will only deter future customers, harming your revenue stream and word-of-mouth reputation in the process.

Gather Pools of Customer Feedback

Not all consumers are created equal and assuming so will be your downfall. Regardless of your business or industry, the more you know about your competitors and customers, the better. And what better way to do so than to get the intel right from the horses’ mouth? Some of the best methods for collecting customer intel?

Conduct Surveys: Sending surveys via email, direct mail, social media, etc. is a great way to ask direct questions and get direct feedback. It’s ideal for filling in the grey areas when unsure about product design, brand acceptance, etc. Your best bet is to offer some form of incentive for filling out – also, make them short and simple for more entries!

Focus Groups: For larger product launches or campaigns, it pays to gather samples of people to provide in-depth feedback. Some of the info may appear abstract, some direct – consider hiring some analysts to make the most of the information you gather.

Social Media Polls: Arguing with a co-worker over a small detail? Run a quick poll with a small ad spend behind it to get a single response from one, direct question.

If you’re serious about gathering quality customer intel, consider hiring a trusted market research firm.

See Customer Service As An Investment

There was once a time where having a customer service team was seen as a novelty. Not anymore! Pretty much regardless of your industry, trust there will be healthy competition at all price points, so fail to help your customers out and they’ll leave for a competitor without hesitation. This is particularly true in the social media era – a time where consumers look to Twitter and other networks for real-time assistance (minus the hold music).

Bottom line, it costs a whole lot less to keep your customers happy (and paying) than it would to maintain a revolving door of a customer base – trust us. Having to aggressively market and advertise for the *chance* of maintaining revenue pales in comparison to just keeping a loyal customer base present.

Set Up a Solid Loyalty Program

Like it or not, consumers want incentives for pretty much everything. They want to be rewarded and guess what – if you don’t do it, your competitors certainly will. The best choice? Set up a strong customer loyalty program, which creates a plethora of benefits for your business.

This works to encourage customer loyalty (increasing the value of each customer to acquire and keep), while providing an avenue to collect their shopping and spending habits, which can be used to personalize your long-term marketing efforts.