6 ways to keep existing customer relationships profitable as your business grows and changes

23 May 2018

Keeping customers and maintaining a relationship with them is as important as gaining them in the first place.

And while the former is seen as easier than the latter, it’s vital that you don’t get complacent with existing customers. As a company grows, loyalties and allegiances may shift, and customer bases grow or move into new territories, potentially leaving older customers alienated.

Refocusing strategies in order to re-engage with existing customers in a meaningful and effective manner is part and parcel of any business’ growth. Here we’ll run through the ways you can keep hold of existing customers as your company expands.

business owners discussing customer growth

Cross-selling

Cross-selling is all about capitalising on the relationship you have with your most loyal customers by positioning related items, services or products together. Illustrate that what you’re offering has a depth that links x product with y service in a logical way. It’s a smart technique that seems obvious when you think about it; they’re an existing customer who has remained loyal to your brand – so it’s likely that they’ll buy from you again.

How you approach your cross-selling is business-dependent. Perhaps your online store can use ads that are visible during the checkout process, or you send buyers targeted emails with similar products. Be sure to incorporate end-result analysis to ensure that you're tracking what works and what doesn't.

sme owner meeting with clients

Regular reviews 

Conducting reviews at regular intervals to see how you're performing is well worth doing. In times of growth or change, you'll need to know what's working – so you can leverage these effective methods further – and what isn’t, so you can avoid them in the future. Remember to talk openly and transparently to get the best out of review. And, where possible, use measures or KPIs so you can see when things improve or deteriorate.

Action plans

Having a course of action to steer you through the sometimes-choppy waters of customer retention is invaluable.

Say, for instance, that they’re considering doing business with a competitor. What can you find out about both their needs and the competitor’s way of doing things that means you’ll be able to retain their business? You have a relationship with them already, so knowing what makes them tick shouldn’t be a problem. As your business changes and grows, give them the assurance that things will remain as they are, or even improve, when it comes to customer relationships.  

sme customer growth action plan

When you did business with an existing customer, how did you follow up and support them after the sale? The way you interact with them in this regard has an effect on their future decisions, and should be used as an opportunity to strengthen your relationship with them. Rather than it being the end of the interaction, view it as a means to further the dialogue. Consider how you’re following up with your customers, are their expectations being met when it comes to after-sale support? If you’re only contacting them to sell them something, take note, and augment your communications – if a business only contacts the customer to sell them something, they might not feel particularly valued. 

customer service and retention

Understand what customer retention really means

If you want customers to be loyal, then look towards the office for inspiration. Retention and loyalty starts within. How you do business with others should be determined by how employees are treated; it influences how they respond to and interact with customers.

A customer-centric approach starts with your employees.

Make social media work harder for your business

If you’re leveraging social media as part of your changing business, then harness its potential to retain your existing customers. Not only is it a great way of connecting with them once more, but it offers multiple ways to engage with them, such as providing value-added content, exploring compelling mediums such as video, and asking them for feedback and testimonials on your product/service. 

customer engaging on social media

Reward the most profitable customers 

If you have CRM software in place, you can identify which of your customers has generated the most revenue and been most profitable. After you’ve identified these customers, rewarding them for their loyalty is a great way of retaining them and making sure they don’t look elsewhere for business. If your business is growing or changing, it’s a great way of easing sceptical customers into these new directions, rather than jarring alterations that may be off-putting for them. 

Get in contact and let them know about your rewards and incentives; they’ll appreciate that you’ve taken the time to reach out to them at the very least, and if everything goes to plan, they’ll continue being your most profitable customers.

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