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Retaining your customers

The current economic downturn means many consumers and businesses are cutting costs. But this doesn't mean you need to lose customers.

Because the customers you have now are so valuable to your business, it's important to make sure you're doing all you can to keep them. The following are some tips for retaining your customers.

Provide incentives.
Customers will be more willing to stay if they can try a sample or trial run of new products first before committing to one of your products and services. For example, if you have a software program, offer providing an addition 30 days free when they sign up for 30 days. Or, if you have a catering business, offer a certain percentage off their next order. If you are confident enough in your products and services that you are willing to give them away, your customers will be more likely to continue to buy them, especially if you provide incentives for doing so.
Another way to retain customers is to price match. No matter how great your business is with customer service or products, many customers simply want the best deal. This is especially true in a recession, where more and more people are making attempts to save money. Let your customers know that you will match competitor prices or coupons. This is a great way to retain your customers instead of losing them to competition.
Keep in mind that with providing incentives, however, it's a good idea to create a sense of urgency by imposing a deadline or expiration date. This will get your current customers to act quickly rather than putting it off, as many tend to do.

Be committed to customer service.
Many loyal customers will tell you that it's not just the products that keep them coming back, but the commitment the company has to customer service. Strive to provide excellent customer service by working to first determine, then understand, then meet the needs of your customers. This is probably the best way to retain your customers.
You can also provide excellent customer service and have a better chance of retaining your customers by guaranteeing your products and services. This way, your customers know that not only do you have confidence in your products, but you are concerned with their happiness as well. Put your guarantees in your marketing materials.

Get feedback
Another great way to ensure you'll retain your customers is to make sure you are providing them with the services and products they need and want. For this reason, it's important to get feedback from them. Send out email surveys or fliers, or leave customer comment cards in your shops. You might even offer a little incentive for returning a completed feedback survey. You should also make it easy for them to provide it to you. Have links in your website where they can leave comments, and make it a point to respond to all feedback.

It's important to note that once you get feedback, you should act on it. Customers like to know you are taking their suggestions and needs into consideration, so do your best to implement all suggestions that make good business sense. When customers see that you are doing your best to meet their needs, they are more likely to continue to give you their business.

Customer retention is one of the most important parts of running a business. These are just a few useful tips to help you retain your customers.

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