India Inc. is bursting at the seams with start-ups that have innovative business ideas and a promising future. Around 3100 new start-ups enter the market every year. Ventures like Flipkart and Ola have carved out their niche and solidified themselves as brands that people identify immediately.
There are numerous management mantras that can help a firm establish itself as a successful market player. Building and retaining a strong customer base is foremost among these.
Retaining customers is easier and cheaper than converting new ones. You have to make an effort to build customer loyalty, and the standard customer help-desk is simply not enough.
Here are 5 Ingenious strategies that can prove helpful to your firm when it comes to holding on to your customers.
- Stand for Something
People are eager to connect with brands that have a strong value system and ethical code. Being consistent in what you say and what you deliver will build goodwill. The quality or your product or service, timeliness of delivery, and excellent after-sales assistance will build a brand image that your customers can trust.
People also tend to connect with firms that are known for their ‘giving back’ initiatives. Although this is legally required when your company’s net annual profit is 5 crore or more, start-ups can build a foundation for corporate social responsibility (CSR) at an early stage in their growth.
- The Social Construct of Reciprocity
Building a sense of reciprocity around a brand has proven its usefulness in fostering a relatable brand image. Empathising with your customers is the cherry on top of your customer-centric approach. Your patrons are sure to feel an emotional connect with your product or service if they are at the receiving end of a small gesture of reciprocity. This will make them want to return the favor, giving you satisfied and loyal customers.
For example, Kobo e-book app gives its readers a range of free ebooks to download and save in their libraries. This simple gesture is one that builds customer loyalty and keeps people coming back.
- Extra Effort Goes a Long Way
A useful add-on feature or service will leave a long-lasting impression on people’s minds. You can stand out from your contemporaries by putting in a little extra effort.
For example, DriveU, a startup that provides drivers on demand across Bangalore, Chennai and Mumbai, takes a simple and effective approach to this. In the interest of keeping the customer’s car as clean as possible, these personal drivers bring along a paper floor mat and a special seat cover.
This small gesture acknowledges the emotional value that most people have invested in their vehicles. The thoughtfulness that this shows leaves a lasting impact on customers and makes it more likely that they will use the service again.
- Make It Easy to Reach Out
Most customers who stop using products or services because of a poor experience never tell you where you went wrong and how you can improve. But, a bad experience is always shared with friends and colleagues. Word-of-mouth spreads like forest fire, and this is a disadvantage to you as people tend to believe hearsay. They will dismiss your product or service even before using it, based on negative word-of-mouth.
If, instead, you make it easier for customers to voice their complaints on a public forum like Twitter or on your company’s website, you get the opportunity to turn customer dissatisfaction into a productive exercise in customer service.
It gives you the opportunity to visibly hear and resolve their complaints. If you solve their issues promptly, you will have a satisfied and loyal customer while also improving brand image.
- Net Promoter Score
An effective way to identify whether your customers are happy is to use the net promoter score survey. This survey uses one simple question, “how likely is it that you will recommend company x/product y to your friends?”. The score is measured on a scale of 1 to 10, and the responses indicate the percentage of customers who are promoters (those who respond to a score of 9 or 10), passive (7 or 8), and detractors (0 to 6).
You can then ask the customers the parameters on which they’ve based their score. This will help you enhance your offering by giving you insight into a consumer’s perspective on potential improvements.
It costs organizations about 5 to 10 times more to acquire new customers than to retain existing ones. So when it comes to return on investment, building a loyal customer base is integral to the success of a business. This especially holds true when it comes to fresh startups.
The strategies discussed above will prove to be of help to entrepreneurs who are trying to gain a foothold in the market. Remember, a satisfied customer is a loyal customer.