Earning customer trust with American consumers can be a challenging task, but once you’ve accomplished it, you may have earned a customer for life. Data from a global survey conducted by Acquia found that 59% of U.S. consumers surveyed said that once they are loyal to a brand, they’ll be a loyal customer to that brand for the rest of their life.
Converting one-time shoppers into loyal clients is no doubt worth the effort—so how do you make it happen at your retail store? Implementing a client retention strategy is key to earning repeat business.
In this article, we’ll cover what client retention is, how to measure it, and offer four tips on how you can go the extra mile to retain clients at your business.
What is client retention?
Client retention has to do with a business owner’s ability to keep their clients coming back to their store over a specific period of time, like in a given month, quarter, or year.
So if you have high client retention, that means you’re doing a great job retaining your clients and earning loyal customers. On the other hand, if you have low retention, you’re losing more customers than you’re keeping—this is also known as having a high churn rate. That’s obviously not good for business.
While earning new customers is important, a customer retention strategy focuses on earning repeat business with your current customer base more so than introducing new people to your store. Although the two will go hand in hand—many of the things you’ll do to lower your customer churn rate and provide a positive customer experience to your current customers will likely also attract new customers.
How do I measure client retention?
The easiest customer retention metric to help you identify if your customer retention program is performing is by calculating your client retention rate, also known as a customer retention rate.
You’ll use the below customer retention formula to see how well your team is retaining clients over a period of time.
Client retention rate formula
- Add up the number of clients you have at the end of a given time period (month, quarter, year, etc).
- Subtract the number of new clients you gained during that same time period—that way you’re focusing solely on client retention—not client acquisition.
- Take your result and divide it by the number of clients you had at the beginning of the time period you’re measuring.
- Finally, multiply that number by 100 to get a percentage.
Here’s an example:
Let’s say you had 50 total clients at the start of the year, and closed out the year with 45 clients. 10 of those are new clients you gained during that time period. So, plugging all of those numbers into our formula, you’d have a customer retention rate of 89%.
[(50 – 10)/45] x 100 = 89%
So is an 89% retention rate any good? In retail, that’s a solid rate. The average customer retention rate in retail is 63%, which is on the lower side compared to other industries. However, the goal you set for client retention at your store may differ slightly based on what retail industry you’re in specifically, such as jewelry, fashion, or furniture.
Four client retention tips
Whether you’re ready to start implementing a brand new client retention program at your business, or are looking to refresh your existing strategy, these tips will help you build brand loyalty and earn repeat business.
Tip #1: Focus on the relationship—not just the sale
First, your sales associates need to focus on building a personal relationship with shoppers. While closing a deal is often top of mind for your sales team, customer relationships are just as important—if not more so—because repeat shoppers actually spend more than first-time customers.
This idea of building personal relationships with key customers is called clienteling, and has a big impact on sales. A Bain & Company study found that shoppers spend 67% more per order after shopping with a company for 30 months. So the longer you retain a client, the more they’ll spend over time.
Tip #2: Tailor the shopping experience to each client
Next, as your sales team gets to know your clients, they’ll be able to go the extra mile and offer a personalized experience for each client.
For example, let’s say you own a men’s suit shop and have a shopper who came in for a fitting. They mentioned to your sales associate that they’d be attending a wedding in a few months. Your sales rep can personalize their next shopping experience by reaching out a few weeks before the wedding date with a deal on the style of suit they know they’d like based on their past purchase.
This client is far more likely to come back to your store to not only take advantage of the customized deal and product offerings, but to reengage with a sales associate that knows them personally. It’s a win win for both your sales team and your clients.
Tip #3: Ask for customer feedback
Another key aspect of any customer retention program is gathering feedback from your current clients and customers. What about your store makes customers happy? Are there any customer complaints from unsatisfied customers that need addressing?
Sending out a customer satisfaction survey is one way to answer questions like these and determine customer expectations. From there, you can use that direct feedback to see what’s working and what’s not.
Customer reviews are another way to see how your current shoppers are feeling. While it’s never fun to get negative feedback, it’s often the most valuable in identifying what needs to change and how you can set achievable goals for improvement.
Tip #4: Implement customer loyalty programs and referral programs
Finally, offering programs to reward customer loyalty and referrals is another great way to earn repeat business.
For example, a referral program can incentivize shoppers to bring their friends into the store and spread the word about the positive shopping experiences they’ve had with you and your sales team. You can reward them for their referrals with gift cards, a free product or service, or whatever makes sense for your business.
Customer loyalty programs also often reward customers on their birthday, anniversary, or other important milestones, so be sure to take note of these dates when getting to know your key customers.
How software can help
If implementing a full-scale customer retention program sounds overwhelming, clienteling software like Clientbook can help you retain clients with ease.
With Clientbook, information on all of your clients is stored in one place, so important names and dates will never get lost in a shuffle of sticky notes ever again. What’s more, you’ll get automated reminders to help you know when to follow up with clients, send personalized product recommendations, and even complete transactions.
The goal of customer retention is to earn repeat business and turn casual shoppers into loyal clients. Putting in the effort to retain key customers can have a huge impact on your sales, help you exceed customer expectations, and even lower your customer acquisition costs as your satisfied clients tell their friends and family about your business.