If you’re operating a business and this is the first time you’ve ever considered this concept, you’re lucky to still be around. Repeat customers are the lifeblood of any commercial endeavor. The holy grail of success, your regulars are what will keep your hosting fees paid while you do everything you can to attract additional ones. An oft-quoted business trope is that it’s far less expensive to maintain an existing customer than it is to create a new one. Of course, it’s repeated often because it’s true.

So, here’s how to keep repeat customers.

Show Some R-E-S-P-E-C-T

This can take a number of forms, but first and foremost, train your customer service team to acknowledge a customer’s previous purchases whenever they have occasion to interact with a returning patron. “Ms. Bell, thank you so much for being a repeat customer. We really value your business and I promise you I will do everything I can to help you today. What do you need?”

Make sure this attitude is firmly ingrained in your company culture. Every employee should be inculcated with a health sense of respect for the customer in everything they do. Errors are minimized when they think this way, because the goal becomes to please the customer—rather than simply get through the day.

Respect is also demonstrated when you follow up after each sale to make sure things are to the customer’s satisfaction. Basically, everything you do to show appreciation for their patronage is a sign of respect for the customer.

People respond to these gestures by returning to places where they feel valued.

Acknowledge Special Events in Their Lives

When customers register, ask for their dates of birth, so you can send them a birthday greeting. When the holidays roll around, send them a note thanking them for their business and include a free gift. If they day they’re purchasing something s a gift, ask after the occasion and flag their file to trigger an event when the date comes around each year.

When you send birthday greetings, anniversary greetings and the like, include a gift, but do not ask them to buy anything. This will trigger the human instinct to reciprocate. When they need something, they know you have they will come back to you out of a sense of obligation.

Create a Loyalty Program

Offering repeat customers membership in a loyalty program has a number of benefits, for you and them. First of all, they get deals for buying the things they like/need, so savings are an incentive right off the top. If yours is one of the ebooks online stores, you can craft a loyalty program around a book club, or around their particular area of interest. Let’s say they like mysteries by a particular writer.

You can offer them deals on new stories in their preferred genre when they’re published. You can hook them up with other mystery readers in a password-protected forum to which only your repeat customers have access. You can use this to provide previews of new books, introduce them to writers with whom they may be unfamiliar and etc. This facilitates customer engagement, gives them something to which they can look forward, and positions you to provide all of their books. Everybody wins.

Employing these three measures will demonstrate a healthy regard for your existing customer base, which is invaluable when you’re considering how to keep repeat customers. They will also trigger additional sales, often when the customer wasn’t even considering one. Happily, these strategies are far less expensive than scouring the internet for new shoppers to drive to your site. Yes, you should continue that effort as well, but if you take your returning customers for granted you won’t have them for long.

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