Article | 3 min read

Ways to Keep Your Long-Time Customers Engaged and Feeling Special

Last updated March 18, 2011

We all know how important and profitable it is to have a good customer retention rate. But with increasing pressure to engage new customers, it can be all too easy to take your existing customers for granted. Just like that old song says, “One is silver and the other gold.” (And we all know how valuable gold is these days.)

So, are you doing everything you can to reward existing customers for their continued loyalty?

“It’s about the relationship,” said Michelle Poteet of consultancy The Productivity Boost. “Do you continue to nurture the relationship? Are you making your previous/current customers feel just as special as when you first began working together? All too often, when you fish for the new clients you pull out all the great bait. But once you have the catch you no longer need to worry about catching that one anymore. Wrong! We need to worry about keeping our current and best clients, and we need to make sure we let them know on a regular basis.”

Poteet suggests sending a gift or a note to clients or hosting a customer appreciation event. No matter what you do, she added, make sure your customers know that they still matter to your business.
OfficeDrop, a cloud-based digital filing service, employs a variety of strategies to engage long-time customers. “We try to do a variety of things to get our oldest customers to be our happiest,” said Healy Jones, head of marketing for OfficeDrop. “We really try to make them feel like they are part of our team and have a real impact on decisions we make here.”

Among other things, OfficeDrop asks its best customers for advice and involves them in big decisions. When the company was in the process of changing its name from Pixily, for example, it surveyed customers and had phone conversations with existing power users, Jones said. Something that would have probably avoided that whole logo fiasco Gap encountered last year.

OfficeDrop also involves existing customers in new product development, in the form of beta testing. “They are excited to see the new stuff that we are cooking up, and it is fun and exciting for them to be the very first people to try new things,” he said.

It also can’t hurt to “give them special stuff,” Jones said. “Our existing customers get special access to OfficeDrop products–extra gigabytes, free stuff like our Mac Scanner Software, ScanDrop, etc. They feel special because they have things that no other users get.”

Traditional platforms such as CRM systems enable companies to identify and reach out to their best customers, but organizations are increasingly leveraging social media to extend that reach. Edublogs, for example, offered Pro versions of its blogging service for customers who “liked” the company’s Facebook page, as both an incentive for customers and a way to engage customers on what was then a new marketing platform for the company.

The ways in which your company can most effectively engage and reward existing customers depends on a great many different factors, but there’s one best practice every organization should follow: Treasure all customers, but treat your best and most loyal clients like gold.