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A staggering 68 percent of customers walk away from a business because they are unhappy with the services they received. Lack of vision, lack of enthusiasm and lack of promotion all play into poor customer service. Here are five tips to make sure your customers or clients stay happy and keep coming back.

Underpromise and overdeliver.

Perhaps the most important key to retaining customers is ensuring that the customer’s expectations are managed well from the outset. Whether you’re a retailer or a service company, the best way to guarantee your customers keep coming back is to make sure they understand the process and have a great experience. If you’re an auto service technician, for example, explain the concept of “planned obsolescence.” The customer will be much more forgiving if your repairs outlast their expectations. If you’re a clothing retailer, make sure the service is impeccable, even when dealing with returns. They may be unhappy with the product, but you will win or lose their future business based on how you treat them during this process.

Be helpful.

Customers like to feel special, and they love to save time and money. Engaging with your clientele on a personal basis and alerting them to special products, discounts and promotions can go a long way toward forging a meaningful relationship. It’s tough to walk away from someone you know and like, and who has been helpful without being pushy.

customer retentionGive away free stuff.

One of the best ways to lure customers back to you is to give them the sensation of getting something for free. Promotions that offer a free gift card with every purchase help to drive traffic, as do free gift offers to formerly excellent customers you haven’t seen for awhile. Send out a flyer advertising your promotion or make personal phone calls informing your target customers that their gift card is waiting for them at your business.

Use social media.

Social media is a brave new world, and there is no end to the methods and innovations people and businesses use to attract followers and fans (who should be considered prospective customers). Be sure to reward the customers following you by following them back; this will go a long way toward earning their loyalty. Likewise, every now and then, hold a social media contest for those who retweet, favorite or like your posts. Give away gift cards to those who do it well, or to keep things interesting, choose “random” winners who just happen to be former customers.

Reward your employees.

At the heart of customer retention is customer service, and that means your employees have to be the best at what they do. Disengaged employees are more dangerous to your brand than anything else, so be aware of the signs of unmotivated and unhappy employees. Go beyond encouraging words and commissions with formal recognitions and actual, tangible rewards for hitting milestones and benchmarks. This will motivate the entire team and provide a culture of healthy competition. Happy employees equal happy customers.

Engaging your customers, ensuring their experience is top notch and motivating your employees to go above and beyond will pay big dividends when it comes to retaining business. Don’t hand your customers over to the competition … earn their business, and keep them coming back!