Customers are the lifeblood of a business. This is why the word traction is very important for startups and investors; a product is only as good as the size of its user base and its potential customers.

But let’s say that your product is out there and that you have already established a user base. How do you keep them coming back?

Up your engagement

Customers typically engage with companies for two things: enquiries and complaints. With the rise of social media, companies have the chance to engage with their customers in ways other than answering a question or addressing a complaint. There is a reason companies and brands have a social media account (or five) and that is because humans are social creatures. Engaging with customers – whether online or offline – feeds the basic human need to connect.

While you can still use social media channels to deal with enquiries and complaints, a better use for it would be in connecting with customers without (hard) selling anything. Take a cue from professional bloggers whose well-curated social feeds look nothing like a deliberate marketing plan but still manage to get viewers to buy the things they display. Also, don’t miss out on letting customers know that you’re there. Don’t just post and go; take time to respond to comments or react to posts that customers tagged you. Remember that engagement is never a one-way street.

Also read: One year on, Apple Pay finding little traction in the Middle Kingdom

Reward loyalty

Loyalty programmes abound simply because they work. Giving customers additional incentives the more they use your services is a quick way to retain them, with the caveat that the incentives provided are relevant to them. Some companies employee a point system, while some give discounts or gifts when certain milestones are reached, the idea being that customers are rewarded for continued use of services of the company.

Give your most loyal customers a reward. Think of it as a thank you gift not only for engaging your services numerous times but for bringing in new customers. Because, remember, if a customer keeps using your services, it is highly possible that they tell anyone they meet about you.

Make use of your metrics

In business, everything that could be measured should be measured. It is extremely easier today, especially as there are a lot of available tools and solutions that could measure not only the typical things measured like sales and costs and revenues but also things like page views and number of visits per user and even length of time spent by a user per page of a website. The data is stored and available for use in plans

Take a look at you data. Check the buying patterns and browsing behavior of your customers. The trends that you see in your data can help you create a customer retention program that is well-suited to your customers. This would work even if your business is not online just as long as you keep a record of important data. Knowing which months your sales shoot up, for example, reveals a lot about the buying patterns of your customers and would help you create a plan on when and how to engage them.

Also read: 4 reasons your startup needs a mentor

Keep improving customer experience

In today’s fast-paced world, the first version of things (with the exception of very few) will never be the best version. There are growing pains to go through, after all, and even the most used technology had to make plenty of adjustments before and after it has launched. Facebook, for example, works a bit differently now than it did a year ago and so much more than when it launched.

Do your best to leave your biases behind and take a look at your product or service as a customer. Would you want to use it? Is it easy to use? Are there better alternatives? Then do one better and look at your data. Tailor your product or service to create a customer experience that best supports your customers’ behavior.

Create offline activities

As previously mentioned, humans are social creatures who are wired with the need to connect. That is why even when today’s technology advancements allow us to literally never leave our homes and still be productive members of society, we don’t. Customers are the same; sometimes foregoing email enquiries in favor of phone calls for that added assurance of human connection using voice.

If your business is online, organising offline activities can help you engage with your customers better. Think of it as a way of creating a community of people who like your product. For example, if you are a travel company, organise regular meet-ups of participants of previous trips. Not only is it a good after service activity, it paves the way to drum up interest for customers to avail more of your services.

Also read: 5 reasons you should say “yes” to that startup job offer

Involve them in designing their experience

There are customers looking for convenience, some looking for value, and some looking for niche products or services. What is common among customers regardless of what they’re looking for is that they all appreciate a good experience. A lot of companies have accommodated needs of customers and some have taken to allowing customers to design their own experience.. Take as an example Netflix. The inclusion of offline viewing is a response to the needs of customers in emerging markets where internet connection is spotty at best and none at worse. Another example is collaboration tool Asana, who has added a boards as an alternative to its traditional lists as an option to its more visual customers so as not to lose them to other visual collaboration tools like Trello.

Your customers know what they want. Take customer engagement one step further by involving them in creating their own experience in using your product or service. Provide them with options or look at your data and see if there are behavior trends that you can address. Letting your customers decide how they want to experience your product gives them the correct impression that they are your priority.

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