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If sales is like dating, customer retention is like a long-term relationship: it needs attention and care. Like romantic partners, customers needs to know they’re understood, seen and appreciated.

89% of consumers switch to competitors because of poor customer service, and 60% are willing to pay a bit more for better service, but cultivating loyal customers is about more than giving them what they want when they’re with you, whether it’s a digital or brick-and-mortar business. According to CEO of NewsCred, Shafqat Islam, “Focusing on customer retention is a win-win for customers and your team. Zeroing in on customer happiness—rather than revenue—leads to more word-of-mouth-driven acquisition, upsell opportunities, and business fundamentals that you can have pride in. Many people can close deals, but it’s keeping yourself indispensable that’s the real marker of success.” Valentine’s week is the perfect time show some extra love and start some new habits to keep the romance alive.

 

Express Yourself

Nothing cultivates trust and loyalty like keeping your promises. Define what excellent customer service means to you in a list of principles and specific, tangible actions. To make it official, post the list in a prominent place where both your employees and your customers can see it. Make that list a part of your culture every day. As Shafqat Islam says, “Vision and values must be reinforced every day to be effective.”

Combine new technology and old fashioned practices to show your customers you care. On special occasions, or just because, divide up a list of customers amongst your team and write them each a personal, handwritten note. And for a more consistent touchpoint, use a weekly email newsletter to keep yourself in their minds. Include a call to action and a coupon or offer every week to encourage people to open it up and engage, and pass on information that applies to your area of expertise but may not benefit your business directly. According to the U.S. Direct Marketing Association, every dollar you invest in email marketing will return $35.02. Both of these modes of outreach should be focused on enriching your relationship. It’s not about you–it’s about them. Don’t make a sales pitch or upsell.

 

More than Words

Keeping the love alive also means backing up your words with actions. Customer service expert, Anne M. Obarski, touts communication and responsibility sharing as common pitfalls in customer service: “I may never meet the president of a big company but I meet their ‘representative’ everyday I do business with them.” It doesn’t cost you anything to make sure your employees are always kind and teach them about active listening. When a customer speaks, hear them. Whether what they are saying is positive or negative, encourage your team to keep their mouths shut until they’re done speaking, and then thank them for their input without argument or defensiveness.

If you own a brick-and-mortar store, empower employees to give customers a 10% discount whenever they see fit. To celebrate a birthday, appease a cranky customer, or to occasionally reward someone who comes in a lot–make it up to the employee’s discretion. This makes both the customer and the employee feel appreciated.

 

I Will Always Love You

Attention to detail never goes unnoticed. If you build these practices into your brand identity, customer loyalty and new business will grow organically together.

What can do you do to show your customers you love them?

Recommended Reading
Permission Marketing: Turning Strangers into Friends and Friends into Customers by Seth Godin