Sylvia Pennington
Business Journalist

Sylvia Pennington writes regularly on business and technology for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age

Sylvia Pennington
Business Journalist

Sylvia Pennington writes regularly on business and technology for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age

Keeping customers and clients can be difficult. But adding a little tech into the equation can help keep people coming back for more.

Getting customers through the door is by no means easy, especially in lacklustre economic times when holding off on spending and making do are mantras for many.

Converting new customers into loyal repeat consumers of your business’ products or services can be even tougher. But information technology can be a powerful and cost effective weapon in your campaign to boost customer retention.

Here are some high-tech tactics and tools to keep them coming back for more.

Man sitting down using tablet

1. Know them

Want to make sure your products or services are hitting the spot with your regulars? Then it makes sense to clock who they are, what they’re buying and when. This could mean it’s time to pension off the old school till and invest in a modern Point Of Sales (POS) system that can capture this information and generate invaluable insight into what makes your customers tick.

More often than not, the 80/20 rule applies, according to Jordan King, director of business development at cloud-based POS developer Vend.

“We often see that 20 per cent of customers drive 80 per cent of revenue – you need data to find those 20 per cent,” he says.

2. Ping them

Staying close to customers via regular SMS or MMS messages can often be more effective and cheaper than trying to raise them on the phone.

Research from the Direct Marketing Association's 2010 Response Rate Trend Report shows SMS messages are opened 97 per cent of the time, making it an effective medium for promotions, reminder messages and other notifications to ensure your business stays top of mind with regulars.

It works for us, says Snap Fitness Helensvale, which sends motivational messages at random times to boost its bond with participants in its 8 Week Challenge program.

3. Remind them

Ever surfed your way to a company’s website once, only to find banner ads for their business every which way you turn, seemingly following you about as you traverse the net?

Welcome to Google remarketing technology: a powerful way to remind customers of your presence and encourage the indecisive to stop by and buy.

How does it work? When a user visits your pages, a cookie is placed on their computer, which enables ads for your business to be dished up further down the track when they browse other sites. More eyeball time, more awareness for prospects that have already shown an interest in your offering – and more opportunities to seal a sale.

4. Reward them

Do you offer customers a discount, small gift or occasional freebie for bringing their business to you, not your competitor down the road? If not, is it time you started?

A well-run loyalty scheme can acknowledge and reward repeat customers and create opportunities for you to increase the size and frequency of their spend.

And forget stamps on a card – the rise of the smartphone and the accompanying mobile technology revolution has seen loyalty programs go high-tech. Businesses can now choose from a slew of programs and apps to help them cosy up to their regulars and remind them how much their business is valued.

5. Respond to them

Compliments, complaints, questions… how quickly and well do you respond when customers get in touch? A customer relationship management system can allow you to track transactions more easily by functioning as a command centre for all queries, regardless of the medium through which they’ve come.

A fast response is a good response. Integrating all your channels of communication can improve your ability to offer a response – and up the odds of customers viewing their interaction with you as a positive one.

Answering calls is still an important part of customer service.

Answer them or potentially miss opportunities.

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