June 27, 2015

Posted By: Scotty Spielman

ThinkstockPhotos-467093972

Attracting customers is only half the battle. Once you win them over, you have to keep them and that isn’t easy.

With a little perseverance and some proactive thinking, you can keep your customers by reminding them what brought them through your doors to begin with—superior customer service.

Before we get to some tips about customer retention, let’s touch on some reasons why it’s important and why you customers may leave in the first place.

It’s not exactly brain science. Research shows that 68 percent of customers leave a business because they are unhappy with the service they receive. Also, 14 percent are unhappy with the products that business uses. Of those unhappy customers, nearly 10 percent will go directly to a competitor.

The following nine customer retention strategies will give you some inspiration and practical examples to help you improve your customer retention rates. They address the above mentioned problems and provide you with actionable tips you can implement today to maximize your customer retention.

Here are some tips on how to keep your customers—and keep them happy.

  1. Set expectations, and exceed them. The earlier you do this the better. You can set expectations with guarantees, through service agreements and more. Make the expectation of high customer service an expectation with your staff and reward your team members if one of your customers calls him or her out for the exceptional service they provide.
  2. Handle negative experiences promptly and feel free to go overboard. Sometimes, things don’t work out the way you or your customers would like—everyone has an off day—but use those experiences as a way to show the rest of your customers that they are important. Customers tend to remember negative experiences more than positive ones, so you’ll have to work extra hard to regain their trust.
  3. Build trust through relationships. We’ve talked about this before in terms of attracting customers. You’ll need to build on it to show your customers they were right to trust you in the first place. A study by the African Journal of Business Management found that as trust increases, commitment tends to grow. Show genuine interest in them and their business
  4. Think ahead. For autoshops, this is a relative no-brainer. You know when your customers will need service in the form of routine maintenance. Send out reminder notices—not just through stickers on windshields, but postcards, text messages, email campaigns. Tie them into monthly specials and offer incentives for making early appointments. If your customer is dropping his or her car off for service, keep them updated on the progress—don’t just call when it’s ready. Use a healthcare model and remind your customers that routine maintenance will prevent small problems from becoming big problems.
  5. Build relationships online. Interact with your customers when they’re not in the shop, through sites like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Start a blog and offer repair tips, or a regular Q & A. Take pictures of auto parts and offer a gift for the first person to guess what it is or what it does (bonus points for both!)
  6. Feedback, feedback, feedback! Implement an online survey or ask your customers to rate your service through your social media sites or a review site. If it’s a good one, all the better: you can use it to promote your services. If not, use it as a way to improve your service—both with that customer and others who are watching how you handle negative reviews.
  7. Follow up. Make your reminder notices specific: If you talked about a mildly dirty air filter during their last oil change, mention it again when you send out a reminder notice. Start up a loyalty program and let your customers know how close they are to achieving the next level, the way some supermarkets do through their ‘perks’ programs. (For example: spend another $10 this month, and you’ll save $25!)

Customer retention is an important part of keeping a steady, positive bottom line. By solidifying the relationship you started when your customers came through the door, you’ll go a long way to ensuring they stay with you for a long time to come.

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