Getting paid on time is one of the most frustrating issues for businesses. Customers are never overjoyed to part with their money. But if they are happy with your products and service they are much more likely to pay within the negotiated time frame.
Elizabeth Hollingsworth, an ecommerce merchant, believes there are a number of things you can do that cost nothing, but offer customers satisfaction and reassurance, enticing them to pay on time.
- Keep customers informed: let them know their order is on its way or the item they enquired about is now available.
- Keep customers feeling valued: offer a loyalty discount or an option to pay a year in advance for a discount.
- Give out customers vouchers. Vouchers with no expiry dates ensure customers won’t face disappointment if they take a while to redeem them.
- Ask your biggest customers for their input on potential products and services. People feel more connected to a product when they have had some say in its creation, delivery, or terms. They appreciate being asked, and if it appeals to them, they’re more likely to buy it.
A happy customer tells their friends about your business and word-of-mouth is one of the most effective marketing tools there is.
In the “Guide to Customer Service” from the Chartered Institute of Marketing, they acknowledge it's often difficult to get the same customers to buy from you repeatedly and consistently. They believe you must give them something to come back for with the best possible product or service.
Your customer service should be exemplary: staff should always be friendly and helpful. Customers should feel at all times that you are giving them personal attention.
Allow your best customers a little extra for free; if they come to your business regularly, you should reward them.
It's also worth treating first-time customers, perhaps by offering a small discount; this will create goodwill and encourage them to return.
Loyalty cards and deals that offer discounts and special offers for return custom are a great way to encourage customers back to your business.
Balance the number of return visits needed to gain a discount with how likely it is a customer will bother to make that number of returns - don't make it too many or they won't bother. Four to six visits usually work well with a loyalty card.
Keeping ahead of the competition with pricing is important but often good customer service is more important to consumers than a cheaper price. Having said that, undercutting on price is always welcome, but keep your USPs and target customers in mind.
Meagan Rhodes, Digital Marketing Lead of @Pay, believes you can retain customers if you offer a simpler way to pay.
She believes that too often organisations will hyperlink to landing pages that then require customers to fill out billing and shipping information every time they purchase. Some require customers to remember usernames and passwords, or figure out Captchas.
Businesses will capture new revenue if the payment process is quick and frictionless. Payment technologies such as PayPal, @Pay, or GoogleWallet are simplifying the purchasing experience and aiding customer retention.
Maciej Fita, Managing Director of Brandignity, believes you should stay in contact with your customers post transaction. Send them coupons to get them to return and email company newsletters so they recall their purchase from you.
Another suggestion is a Rewards Card. Make customers go to your website and activate the card, at which time you will receive valuable data from them (of course complying with GDPR legislation). Reward and loyalty cards can offer points awarded based on the amount of money that is spent by that customer.
This offers great sales tracking and loyal customers are only too happy to bring out their Rewards Card at the point of sale, definitely reducing the pain of paying.
Gabriel Bristol, President and CEO of Intelicare Direct, acknowledges that getting customers to return to a store can be difficult, especially in a world of fierce competition.
He firmly believes in rewarding customer loyalty with a free product or special discount just for being loyal and mentions that “you'll be surprised at the goodwill this will engender.”
He is also an advocate of thanking your customers for choosing your business because invariably they have other options so you need to show your appreciation in words and deeds how important their business is to you,
You need to keep one step ahead of your customers, develop more products and services to take them to the next level.
In “How to Use Pricing to Improve Customer Retention” I wrote that a high level of service creates high customer satisfaction, which in turn means that customers are more likely to stick around – and even be willing to pay more.