It costs more to gain new customers than to keep the ones you currently have. Most business leaders intuitively know this, but many do not take the time to create processes that get existing customers back in the door. Certainly, if you are a new business, you must focus on new prospects. But, with existing customers, an addition sale may be yours for the asking. Mine your buyers for repeat purchases.It costs more to gain new customers than to keep the ones you currently have. Click To Tweet
The processes outlined in this post assume you have captured contact information from buyers. Whether you are selling in-person or online, you need to know who your customers are. Capture a customer’s email address at point-of-sale so that you can open a dialogue with the customer. Dialogue is a two-way conversion. You are not just capturing an email for an email “blast” campaign. More on that later. Phone numbers used for text marketing must have clear permissive use. Capturing street addresses for the occasional stand-out mailing will also keep you top-of-mind with your customer.
Once you have your buyer’s contact info, you are ready to implement processes that drive repeat purchases.
Offer Buyers a Complementary Product
Amazon has best-in-class practices for making recommendations based on past purchases. This process is known as cross-selling. The company makes recommendations not only on what buyers have purchased in the past, but also on what they have in their shopping cart or even what they have recently viewed on their website. If you have a large catalog of items, offering complementary products helps customers reduce time searching for desired items.
The process can also be effective with smaller catalogs. For instance, if a customer adds slacks to their shopping cart, an apparel boutique might offer a coordinating blouse. Matching earrings might accompany a bracelet purchase from a jeweler. If you sell scented candles, recommending scented oils may result in an additional sale. For ecommerce purchases, it is best to automate these recommendations but if you do not have the resources to do so, you can offer the complementary products in a follow up email. Brick-and-mortar stores should ensure that sales associates are familiar enough with inventory to make similar on-the-spot recommendations.
Of course, cross-selling is not limited to tangible products. A bridal photographer might offer a printed keychain along with the purchase of prints. A fitness instructor might offer a one-on-one training session for clients who purchase a certain number of group sessions. Similarly, a corporate trainer who books one training session might offer a follow-on session within a certain timeframe.
Recommend Customers Upgrade Their Purchase
Upselling and cross-selling both lead to a higher average sale. The distinction is that upselling usually entails a customer replacing a current product with an upgraded or premium version of the same. Think smartphone upgrades. An ad for the newest version of a smartphone will tout features that an older version may not have. This entices smartphone owners to replace and upgrade their existing device.
In addition to tech-enabled devices, the upsell process is frequently used with service businesses. In fact, it is common among software-as-a-service (Saas) businesses. The freemium model allows a customer to sign up for a basic value-added service for free. Paid subscription services are available for a fee. The upgrade from the free to paid premium service is an upsell.
But, upselling is not limited to Saas businesses. Other service businesses can structure their product offerings to make upselling easier. Using the same businesses noted above, the bridal photographer can offer a basic photo package alongside upgraded packages that require a higher spend but add more value. For instance, retouches may only be available in premium packages. The additional feature only available the upsell may attract a buyer to the premium offering. In fact, any fee-for-service platform can structure service packages such that premium packages have higher fees for more features. Customers who buy basic services should be offered an opportunity to upgrade at a later date.
Offer Exemplary and Transparent Customer Service
Good customer support leads to better customer satisfaction, higher brand value and stellar reviews that can impact future sales. Set expectations on what a buyer can expect by sharing customer service policies at the point of sale. Resolve customer issues quickly, using your written policies and have trained support staff who can judiciously offer flexibility as circumstances warrant.
Remember that the Pareto principle (a.k.a. the “80/20 rule”) applies to customer service. Roughly 80% of customer service inquiries come from 20% of your customers. Identify which (if any) of the 20% of inquiries come from loyal buyers. With enough volume, you can identify the loyalists based solely on their customer profile. Consider a policy that specifically supports loyal customers. Don’t let a bad customer experience turn into a review that hinders future sales opportunities.
Solicit Customer Feedback Regularly
To get repeat purchases from customers, you not only need to offer exemplary customer service but also understand your customer’s needs and wants. Surveying customers opens a dialogue between the business and the buyer. Soliciting feedback from customers can result in new potential product features and better processes.
Getting feedback immediately may also to help stave off negative online product reviews. However, surveying customers for feedback and asking for an online review should be two distinct processes. While it may be appropriate to survey every buyer for internal feedback, it is often best to send requests for public reviews to customers who you know will give you positive feedback. Use what you learn to improve the customer experience and you will be on your way to more repeat purchases.