5 Easy Ways to Generate Repeat Business Online
- August 16, 2015 | Lee Polevoi
Every online sale you make should pave the way for repeat business. After all, each successful sale is an indicator of customer satisfaction with your product, the types of payment systems offered, how your product was packaged and delivered, and the quality of service you provided. If you've established the foundation for customer retention but don't build on it, you're missing a valuable opportunity for repeat sales.
Here are five tips for maximizing the chances that a new customer will become a loyal (and frequent) repeat customer.
1. Always be thinking of the second sale
After ensuring that you've completed the initial transaction to the customer's full satisfaction, take action to bring that customer back again. Share your appreciation for their business and "if it's allowed on the marketplace where you sell, offer a first-time buyer a discount if they return."
2. Make sure every aspect of delivery is first-rate
The fastest way to discourage repeat business is by flubbing any part of the shipping and delivery process. Customers expect to get your product quickly and efficiently, so it's up to you to ensure that your delivery process is first-rate, whether you handle it yourself or through a trusted drop-shipping partner.
It's also good to offer more than one shipping option; customers love to have choices. As Tricia Bolds, president/CEO of Gulf Coast Pet Supplies, notes on BusinessCollective, her customers often prefer a shipping costs to be built in (read: free): "Even though the cost is built in, the consumer likes to believe they are getting something for free."
3. Excel at customer service--always
Never forget that each online customer you encounter wants to be treated as a unique individual, expecting the same courteous and attentive service they might get in a face-to-face encounter. Every aspect of the transaction should be handled with care, leaving no details neglected. Better yet, says Stoney deGeyter, CEO of the SEO firm Pole Position Marketing, "Surprise your customers with something or do something unexpected."
Outstanding customer service includes acknowledging when a mistake has occurred and doing everything in your power to correct it. Explain to the customer exactly how you plan to deal with the issue and when. If a refund is called for, provide it without delay. If you're resending the purchased product, consider including some small free item and/or a discounted offer on their next purchase. Customers are very forgiving if they feel their complaints have been noted and addressed.
4. Cultivate customer feedback and reviews
Don't wait to see if customers have feedback after their first transaction with you. Invite them to comment (good or bad) on their purchasing experience. Chris Campbell, CEO of a review monitoring solution Review Trackers, says, "Customers that feel valued and heard will not only be more likely to bring their return business, but they'll also likely refer their friends."
Stoney deGeyter agrees: "If you can get someone to write a review of the product or service they bought, then there is a good chance they'll come back and buy from you again. Focus heavily on a system that makes it easy and valuable for customers to write reviews."
If you receive a negative review, Campbell adds, a sincere, personalized response makes a very favorable impression. "Resist getting drawn into a debate or argument with the client or customer, and follow up with a reasonable, good-faith effort to correct the issue."
Kyle Goguen, CEO of the dog product manufacturer Pawstruck, suggests an automatic email system to motivate customer reviews. "About nine days after purchase, our customers receive an email asking them to leave a review and letting them know that reviewers receive a coupon code. That code brings them back to shop, and their reviews are published to the product pages and help attract new customers."
5. Think outside the box
Be creative about offering out-of-the-box ways for customers to keep coming back. Pawstruck's Goguen says, "If you sell products with a predictable life-cycle, consider implementing a subscription option for customers."
Ken Rhie, CEO of the marketing automation software firm Trumpia, is an advocate of SMS marketing. Smartphone users check their phones dozens, if not hundreds of times a day. "How do you gain access to their device? During your customer's checkout process, ask them to opt-in to your mobile database. From there, you can send them relevant SMS coupons directing them to your website for purchase."
By maintaining world-class customer service and coming up with unique repeat-purchasing incentives, you stand a far greater chance of transforming a first-time buyer into a long-term customer.