While some may think that an annual customer retention rate of 80% is good, that means you loose one out of every five customers each year. Theoretically, this translates to 100% turnover every five years. And, as most business owners know, it is much more cost effective to retain a current customer than to acquire a new customer.
There are many approaches to retaining customers. Frequency programs purport to do so as do other customer loyalty programs. CRM systems are supposed to help with this. Some companies try to lock customers in through multi-year contracts and automatic rebilling. But the best approach to customer retention is community building because community building creates emotional connection and stickiness. People stay with the brand because it has created a community for them.
Think about how powerful coffee klatches, book clubs and bridge groups are. Imagine if you could create that type of community with your brand's customers.
So, what are some community building techniques?
- Producing user conferences.
- Creating customer advisory boards and customer steering committees.
- Engaging customers through Facebook pages and other social media platforms.
- Holding customer meet-ups.
- Creating local brand-focused customer clubs.
- Creating physical spaces where customers can interact.
- Holding customer holiday parties and appreciation events.
- Recruiting panels of customers to beta test your new products.
Hallmark sponsors local Hallmark ornament collectors' clubs. Tesla Owners Clubs hold frequent owner meetups. Many wealth management firms hold holiday parties for their clients. Orvis offers free fly tying and casting clinics for its customers. Robert Graham offers exclusive closed door events for people who achieve Master Collector status within their Collector's Club. Most colleges and universities invite their graduates back to reunions every five years. Large churches create small groups focused on different interests to retain parishioners. Patagonia supports grassroots groups working to find solutions to the environmental crisis. Eastern Mountain Sports encourages people to share their outdoor photographs on Instagram with #goEast. SONY's Playstation has create an online space for gamers to connect. Harley Owner's Group (HOG) has more than one million members and holds HOG Rallies around the world. P&G created "Being Girl" as a resource for teenager girls to connect and find answers to the difficult questions that growing up entails. Lululemon's brand community offers free yoga classes, festivals and events and even an experiential store in Chicago featuring fitness studios and a juice bar.
If you want to retain more customers, identify and implement ways to create community among those customers.