15 examples of customer retention strategies that work

There is only one thing more important than winning a new customer. That’s retaining existing customers. And that’s why we have written this article entitled 15 customer retention strategies that work for small businesses. 

They chose you for a reason, and that in itself is a huge confidence booster, but once you have one customer on board, you have to find the next one and then the next one. But the finest customer retention strategies help keep your customers coming back for more, resulting in higher ROI (return on investment). 

What are retention strategies?

And remember it costs less to retain a customer than it does to gain a new one. So what are the 15 customer retention strategies that work for small businesses? A customer retention strategy is an initiative designed to increase customer value. There are many ways to use customer retention marketing strategies. Here is a list of 15 customer retention strategies that you can invest time in and may work for your small business.

1. Customer Service

Excellent customer service is the most critical retention strategy there is. You experience a more personal connection with your clients, create loyalty, and they feel you have taken care of them. You will achieve repeat business. Here are some things you can do include embedding a customer-first culture within your organisation, responding immediately to a customer, take responsibility for mistakes as well as do more than necessary. Provide a consistent service or product, deliver what you promise and make sure it’s on time and always have a fair returns policy.

2. Convenience 

Been seen as convenient to your customers makes it easy for them to keep coming back to you. So, make your services as accessible as possible. Look for the needs of your customer and create tools and solutions. Identify the desires and needs your customers to have and develop tools and systems to address this. Perhaps an App to allow for fast shipping or mobile or PayPal pay. And the ever increasing popular 3 payments options from Klarna, PayPal and others

3. Personalisation

Personalisation strategies help leverage your customers. Once you have identified your audience and their personalities, you can communicate on relevant and preferred channels. And they can tell their friends and tell stories about you. 

4. Lifetime value

When you understand how much lifetime profit a single customer represents you realise how much less it costs to retain than get a new customer. Understanding the profit levels involved allows you to know how much you can spend to keep a customer.

5. Questionnaires and surveys

Use surveys, polls and questionnaires before and after a sale. And after a customer service problem and for marketing your products. Use these tools to understand how your customer feels. What they’re thinking and determining how your product or service is performing. 

6. Complaints are opportunities

Most unhappy customers will not say anything. They will walk away. It is rarely the bad review or the complaint that makes them go elsewhere. It’s your perceived lack of action and failure to do anything about the problem which loses you the customer. Make sure customers know how to make a complaint, highlight that you will do something about and then tell them what you have done to make things better for them. Then thank them for their valuable input. If customers can see you care and have put the effort in to resolve a problem, you will increase their loyalty to you. 

7. Say sorry

When you have done something wrong, you must take the time to apologise. It’s customer service basics to apologise when you have made mistakes. It shows that you care about the customer and what they think about you. And most importantly saying sorry will increase the chance of the customer staying with you. 

8. Referrals

An ongoing or periodic referral program is important and is an excellent customer retention marketing strategy. Give your customer something back when they recommend new customers to you. Referral ideas include discounts, points and rewards, prizes, money back and also buy one get one free.

9. Subscription model

A subscription-based model is prevalent, and one of the best customer retention strategies. You can either charge a one-off payment or introduce a subscription service which offers you a recurring mode. Giving you a retained customer and a consistent service for them.

10. Social Proof

91% of people read online reviews, and 84% trust them. So, use customer testimonials to attract new customers. And Convince current customers to stay or upgrade products by ensuring you are using social proof to your advantage. Promote using social media what these happy customers are saying. 

11. Education

Offer free marketing, sales, customer product training videos, certifications and articles that allows your customers to grow their skills. Provide valuable information to your customers; they will keep coming back.

12. Support on many Platforms

Use Twitter or Facebook to take customer service queries and provide service updates. It is real-time, and people can see you care about keeping your customers happy. It also shows that you are an open organisation and you will do what’s necessary when it comes to your reputation. 

13. Welcome 

Sincerely welcoming new customers to your company will make them feel straight away that it is personal. A message on social media or just a simple (but personal) welcome email sets the groundwork for your future business with them. Make them feel at home, and they are much more likely to stay with you. 

14. Thank your customers

Sure, you can use an email campaign to thank your customers, but why not take it a step further? Taking the time to say thank you to your customers outside of an email campaign or a customer purchase will go a long way toward building a brand that a customer can trust. Thanking your customers in a more personal way is memorable and savvy. You can do this with a phone call, or even by sending gifts. Anything that brings a more personable experience to the process will serve as a great customer retention marketing strategy.

15. Surprise your customers

Surprising customers can help retain them. Sometimes it’s the simple things that delight and amaze customers. A birthday card, handwritten note, a small gift in the post go down very well with your customers. They remember you. 


15 customer retention strategies that work for small businesses shows us that customer retention strategies are incredibility important in the way we do business today. With your competitors sniffing around, social media and the distance your customers can live from you; you must treat them very well. Like a friend and neighbour. If you do, your company will stand out a mile over the mediocrity that is so common in most industries. 

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