Have you ever been a regular at a coffee shop where the barista knows your name, your order, and what time you come in? Some baristas will even have your drink waiting for you when you show up. Sometimes you may even get a free drink as a reward for your loyalty. 

This kind of coffee shop-style strategy is an amazing way to retain customers—where else is someone going to memorize all that information about you? You might think it’s impossible to replicate this digitally, but it’s not. Marketing tools like an integrated CRM, along with automation, can track all the same data as the barista who writes your name on your cup from memory, and they can do it at scale. 

Customer experience is so important that 60% of American customers say they’ll switch companies after two to three instances of poor service. Here are some creative customer retention strategies to encourage your customers to stay with your business for the long haul.

1. Take Critique Seriously  

This might sound like common sense, but great customer service increases customer loyalty. Gary Vee, entrepreneur and social influencer, likes to say, “being nice is ROI positive.” He believes that maximizing growth can’t be achieved without kindness in business and in life. 

If you have a customer who lets you know they’re unhappy with your service via email or social media, pay attention and listen to their feedback. Think about what you would want a company to do for you if you were in their position. Customer experience expert Shep Hyken emphasizes the importance of apologizing (even when it’s not your personal fault), taking ownership of the problem, and responding urgently with a solution. 

A refund or a discount is a good first step, but depending on the issue, you may need to broaden your solution. In a professional service business, sudden negative feedback from a purportedly “happy” customer might mean you need to check in with your clients more often or create a better process for receiving regular feedback.

Because a five% increase in customer retention can increase ROI by as much as 25-95%, customer experience is key. It also has a ripple effect: a loyal customer may become a brand ambassador who may recommend your services to more people in their community.

2. Onboard With Care

Could your customers figure out how to use your product or service on their own? Sure. Should you let them? Not necessarily. Onboarding is a customer success strategy that involves personalized training based on each customer’s needs. This saves the customer headaches down the line and allows you to drive home how your product or service will help address their pain points. Plus, it will enable you to provide them with real-time support from an actual human being within your company. Offering up that personal touchpoint at the beginning of the relationship will set the groundwork and show your customers you’re the kind of company that cares about whether or not they experience success using your services.

3. Create a Content Strategy With a Twist

Content strategy is a great alternative way to catch the attention of your customers. A lot of brands are using social media sites like TikTok to create branded content that doesn’t sound or look like branded content. 

As a newer site that’s still establishing its algorithm, organic reach is higher on TikTok than other social media sites like Instagram. There are always different memes trending on TikTok, and some brands jump on that bandwagon, adjusting the meme content to make it relevant to their business. 

Content may not be quite as fast or direct as some other marketing strategies, but it has excellent potential to reach customers who already pay for your services. If they’ve already opted-in to your services or follow you on social media, keeping your business top-of-mind will help you capture more revenue from existing customers. 

Content strategy can also be used to reward customers for their loyalty. If they renew their subscription for another year, that’s an opportunity to provide an incentive to them for staying with you. You can offer special rewards like free eBook downloads or guides that give special tips and tricks about your services. 

If you employ a social CRM tool, you can discover what customers are saying about your business on social media. You can see if they’ve tagged you or posted about you on their social media pages. And, when you integrate your CRM with marketing automation, you can set up automatic email triggers that reward customers who take specific actions online.

4. Request and Embrace Feedback

This tactic often scares brands because they think they’re going to open the door for tons of critique and negative commentary. And that may be so, but the benefits of asking for feedback greatly outweigh the negative possibilities. 

What you think would make your product or service better isn’t necessarily going to align with how your customers see things. By regularly collecting feedback from your existing clientele, you’ll be able to pinpoint areas that need improvement instead of shooting in the dark and focusing on various areas without any guarantee doing so will result in improvements. Plus, when people see that a business not only cares about what they think but puts their suggestions into action, they’re much more likely to be loyal. Develop and implement a system for gathering feedback from your customers so you can be armed with valuable information on how to keep them happy and coming back for more.

5. Host a Subscriber-Only Webinar

Create incentives within incentives that your customers won’t want to pass up. Host a webinar with an influential thought leader in your industry who has a big following online. Make it available for free to anyone who already subscribes to your list. Segment your email list so that your offers only go out to those most interested in that topic.

Offer a special discount, like two free months of your service, for existing customers who attend. This will not only increase the chances of attendance at the webinar but may also extend the time your current customers continue to work with you—giving you additional opportunities to “wow” them and keep them on board.

6. Instill a Rewards Program

If you really want to keep your current customers engaged, sweeten the pot by rewarding them for their loyalty and continued business. There are a ton of different ways you can set something like this up, and what you offer as rewards can vary greatly as well. Start small by getting customers to sign up via an in-person or online opt-in, and then use their information to send them promotions and exclusive “VIP” discounts. As an added bonus, you can also reward existing customers for referrals, which will help with both retention as well as customer acquisition.

Other ideas could be a yearly gift for the holidays, a special promo offer for birthdays, or other milestones the customers may be experiencing. Making it personal will give it an added touch that will let them know you care about them as a person outside of the business relationship.

7. Offer an Incentive to Return 

It’s always less expensive to retain existing customers than to acquire new ones. Have you had issues with any customers canceling their service recently? If you have, set up an automated email to send those customers a survey asking for feedback about their experience.

Give them an exclusive offer if they return as a client. If the reason they were considering a different service was because of the price, you’ve already won by giving them a discount on a yearly subscription. They will stay with you for at least another year and are likely to stay longer the more time they invest in your service. At least 80% of customers gain increased loyalty for a brand based on positive experiences with their products and services. 

8. Invest in Your Social Responsibility

People love to do business with companies that share their values. When customers see that by shopping with you, they are indirectly supporting a good cause, you’ll win them over for sure. If you don’t currently have a team event or initiative aimed at giving back, make sure you consult with your team about various ways to get involved in your local community. Chances are, someone on your team already advocates for a particular charity or organization, or they may know someone who does and could use some extra help. 

Social good can be doing a variety of different things, but you should focus on acts that fit with your company’s schedule and your team’s passions. Maybe this means sponsoring a local school or recreational sports team, or volunteering with a charity that you care about, or pledging to donate a portion of every sale to a particular cause. This mustn’t be just a strategy to retain your customers. It should be something you genuinely care about and that you make a consistent contribution.

9. Gamify Your Strategy

Reward your customers for reaching milestones with your company as if they were playing a game. 

Send them branded stickers or emojis via email when they make their first purchase with you. Share a fun social media filter with them when they refer a friend. 

Set up a point reward system that gives your customers points every time they make a new purchase. The points can be redeemed to unlock new features or services, like free shipping on an order.

With the help of marketing automation, you can set up emails to go out each time a customer reaches a different milestone. Automation has many benefits, chief among them an increased efficiency;  you can automate over 80% of your strategy. It’s like the famous adage, “Work smarter; not harder.”

10. Facilitate Ongoing Education

Don’t just leave your customers high and dry once you’ve made that first sale. Show that you’re willing to invest in them for the long-term by providing them with ongoing education that will help them today, tomorrow, and five years down the road. Educate them and make it easy with drip campaigns and email newsletters. Establish an online knowledge base that can serve as a hub for all your most valuable content and any self-service tools and resources. You can also try creating a community forum or social media group where clients can go to ask your team questions or share other educational content that will help them. Not only will these things empower your customers and increase their appreciation, but they’ll take some of the heat off your support team at the same time. Win-win!

Your customers will return again and again as long as you keep them happy. If they know they can get consistent, high-quality support and service from you, they won’t consider going to a competitor. And, while it can be exciting (and essential!) to acquire new customers, don’t forget about your existing, long-term customers. They are the real fuel that drives growth over the lifetime of your business.