Everything I learned about customer retention, I learned in the barbershop chair. There’s a reason I keep going back to the lady who cuts my hair, even though now I live on the other side of town. Yet when I shop online, I tend to be “brand agnostic” and remain loyal to only a few businesses. There are just more options to choose from, more competition vying for my attention, and switching brands is as easy as a click of a mouse.
If you’re in eCommerce, you feel this pain point every day with your customers. Finding new clients is always a challenge, and not to mention expensive, so customer retention is incredibly important to the lifeblood of an eCommerce store.
So what can your brand do to increase retention? Again, all you need to do is think: what would a barbershop do?
1. Keep customers engaged
A good haircut is a reason to keep going back to a hairdresser, but a lot of the other “extras” are what really keep me coming back. My hairdresser tells me the latest gossip about what’s going on with her other clients. She knows the local area like the back of her hand, so I get updates on new store openings, new restaurants, and that one tree to avoid parking under due to messy birds.
She also gives me styling tips and free hair products to try that she just got in from some obscure store I would never go to. She’ll save pictures of hairstyles that I might like on her phone to show me the next time I’m in. She’ll even proactively text me that she’s going on vacation so that I can make an appointment before she leaves.
In short, she keeps me engaged. It’s added value every time I come into the shop because I leave with more than what I came in with, even though it’s less hair. And the communication I receive from her is pertinent and wanted. This is how your eCommerce brand should approach engagement with your customers.
For example, give tips on products that your customers have already purchased. Your CRM should help you segment out, say, customers who have purchased a certain crop top in the last few months. Email them styling tips on what other products may complement that specific piece that they recently bought.
Find ways to add value with every online visit. New and helpful blog content can be shared across your social media with tutorials, expert advice, and innovative product usage ideas. Sephora’s TikTok is replete with this type of content, and they boast millions of likes that speak to their level of customer engagement.
2. Schedule 1-on-1 appointments
Sure, I could walk in and wait to get a haircut from my hairdresser (and I do enjoy this, which we’ll talk about in a bit), but it’s much more convenient to make an appointment. She knows I’m punctual, and so there’s rarely ever a delay when I arrive for my session. Not only that, she has the music queued up that I enjoy (anything from the 80s) and the candy that I enjoy (anything from the 80s). So even though 1-on-1 appointments for a haircut are obvious, she finds ways to elevate my experience and makes me feel both known and special.
That’s clienteling right there. And it’s what your brand should also try to emulate as a key customer retention strategy.
Virtual appointments are becoming more common as brands put in the effort to connect and get more personal with their customers. Even brands like ADT have seen a boost to subscriber retention using virtual appointments. And while customers still prefer to have in-person visits (77% of US customers), the comfort level for virtual appointments has been steadily increasing over the years, especially among younger consumers.
Your business may not have the bandwidth to hold virtual appointments with all your customers, so you can start by offering it to your highest Average Order Value (AOV) clients or the ones with the highest Customer Lifetime Value (CLV). This way, your brand has a better chance of a good ROI on the time and effort that your team invests into these 1-on-1s.
Of course, it’s up to you to get creative with your offerings. Is it a virtual styling appointment? A decluttering appointment a la Marie Kondo? Is it a tutorial on how best to use a new product? Maybe it’s even a live training session for a new brand ambassador? Get creative and you’ll see your eCommerce customer retention metrics skyrocket.
3. Great communities make brands sticky
I mentioned earlier that sometimes I just walk in and wait my turn to get a haircut, and that’s because the general hangout atmosphere in the shop is pretty great. My hairdresser mostly deals with other locals I enjoy talking to and I’ve even made a friend while just waiting for a cut. There’s always the aforementioned music and candy while you wait, and there’s even a friendly cat that makes the time go by quicker than you’d expect.
And it’s not luck either; it’s by design. My hairdresser only seems to cultivate lasting relationships with good, easy going clients. Rarely does an ornery person come more than once or twice; she can weed them out and politely tell them that she’s “really busy” on whatever day they want to make an appointment. It’s all calculated to make her best clients feel part of a great community.
Your brand should also aspire to create an online community of positive customers. This is why social media savvy brands are slowly tiptoeing into online community platforms like Discord. While Twitter and Instagram are great for sharing content with your audience, platforms like Discord and Telegram can make it easier for a community to both message with you and with others. And it also gives you moderator powers to mute or block those that ruin the vibe. Don’t be afraid to weird the banhammer, as they call it. Your growing community will thank you.
The ever-trendy Wendy’s social team has even made a splash on live streaming platform Twitch with over 110,000 followers. It’s another way to build a lively community that enjoys the brand, and if you watch any of their Twitch content, you’ll know that brands don’t have to be flawless when connecting on this platform; a little irreverence and imperfection can endear your business to the younger audience.
4. Monitor churn aggressively
When I was recently traveling, I got a voicemail from my hairdresser wondering why I hadn’t made an appointment in a month. I immediately called her back and explained that a) I was traveling, and b) I was going to just let it all grow out until I got back. She hilariously “threatened” me about ever going to another person to get a haircut, and I reassured her that I’m not one to cheat even when in another zip code.
She also made me make an appointment for the day after my flight arrived.
To me, this wasn’t annoying at all; it was awesome. Not only did she know that I was overdue for a haircut, thus knowing my habits intimately, but took the time to chase me down to find out where I was (not sure even my parents would do that). This is the level of aggressiveness that your brand should take when it comes to potentially churning customers.
Your CRM should flag customers who are about to churn, either by monitoring those that haven’t made a purchase in a while or by monitoring those that haven’t opened any email or SMS messages in a few months. By detecting these churn warning signs, you can be proactive in chasing them down just like my hairdresser.
In 2020, the average churn rate in retail was 24%. Ideally, your rate of churn should be well below that. Segment your audience by likely-to-churn and aggressively promote sales, personalized product recommendations, and virtual appointments. It’s the crux of customer retention, and many brands resort to loss-leading promos to keep customers from churning because of the value of their CLV.
Of course, the best way to prevent churn is to provide an excellent clienteling experience. Endear’s CRM can help. Try a free demo of Endear today.