22 Tactics for Improving Customer Retention – Part Two

A few posts ago we started to look at the top tips for cultivating good business relationships. In part two, we conclude our look at customer retention and further investigate how you can turn your prospects into loyal customers.



Customer services

Social media customer service

Offering great customer service via social media can help customers to avoid the pain of the call centre queue, and offer a more personal touch.

For example, Blackberry offers the personal touch by including pictures of the people ‘manning’ the profile:


Improve email customer service

According to recent stats, email is the preferred customer service channel for 44% of consumers. However, email customer service is often poor, or non-existent.

Answer customer calls

Call centres are massive sources of pain for customers. Indeed, 48% of consumers say it’s the most frustrating customer service channel.

This can be due to poor service offered by agents (and I’ve experienced plenty of that) but also because it takes so long to get your call answered at times.

Brands like first direct, which often answers calls instantly, and normally within a minute, have a clear advantage over competitors just because they avoid pissing customers off by making them wait.

Offer free and easy returns

If customers know they can return items easily if they change their minds, they are more likely to come back again. On the flipside, charging for returns.

According to Craig Adkins of Zappos:

Our best customers have the highest returns rates,but they are also the ones that spend the most money with us and are our most profitable customers. Zappos’ modus operandi is not to give its purchasers the cheapest footwear on the block, but to give them the best service: hence, a 365-day returns policy, and free two-way shipping.

On the flipside, charging for returns, though retailers have costs to cover, can deter customers from returning to a website. The cost of the return needs to be weighed against the risk of losing repeat business.

Email marketing

Offer accessories for previous purchase

This is a useful tactic for post-purchase emails. If customers have bought an iPad, why not offer them relevant accessories, covers etc?

Post-purchase emails

If a customer has just made their first purchase, this is a good time to follow up with a welcome email and some up and cross sell suggestions.

Birthday / event emails

Emails triggered by specific events, such as a customer’s birthday, abandoned checkouts etc can be a very effective retention tactic. Check out these stats from Email Marketing Reports.

Reminder emails

If a customer hasn’t made a purchase for a while, then a gentle nudge may be enough to tempt them back. It also helps to sweeten the email with a discount.



Reward your most valuable customers

At last year’s Econsultancy JUMP event, NET-A-PORTER head of marketing Neil Bridgeman talked about the attention it gives to its most valuable customers,  who are labelled as EIPS (extremely important people).

These EIPs “represent an inordinate amount of revenue”, and as such they’re very well taken care of.

Here’s how:

  • Orders from EIPs are picked, packed and despatched first.
  • They are assigned personal shoppers and invited into the London office for wardrobe planning.
  • They get first choice of new products (some of which are very limited).
  • They receive personalised lookbooks and see exclusive previews and presentations.
  • EIPs have personal shoppers.
  • EIPs have products bought specifically for them by the buying team.

Offer rewards for loyalty

I was pleasantly surprised to receive a text from O2 recently, offering me a free gift for being a customer for four years. It was a £15 voucher (no strings attached) for the retailers mentioned.

Not a massive amount, but a nice gesture nevertheless.


Refer a friend for gift vouchers / money off 

This is a common tactic for financial sites. For example, first direct will credit your account with £100 for every friend you refer.

Naked Wines uses a similar tactic, offering a £40 voucher for friends, and crediting customers’ accounts for their efforts.



I recently decided to cancel my Graze boxes, so I headed to the site with the aim of cancelling altogether.

However, rather than just cancelling, Graze gave me the option of changing to one box every four weeks from weekly, throwing in the carrot of a half price box:


It may come across as a bit needy to some, but this keeps one more customer for Graze, with the potential that I may decide to up the frequency at a later date.

So there you have it our top tips for improving customer retention. What do you think? Is there something we missed? Please drop by and share your comments, questions and experience.