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How Can I get Repeat Business?

If you get lots of one off sales in your business but want to get repeat business, this article can help give you the knowledge of how you can turn those one off buyers into repeat customers.

You will learn

  • Ways of building customer loyalty
  • How to retain customers with incentives
  • The importance of branding in getting repeat business

"Repeat business" means getting your existing customers to make another purchase. Getting repeat custom is sought after by many businesses – whether in a business to business, or business to consumer environment. 

Repeat business is something that many businesses would like, but only some enjoy. To get repeat custom, you need a product or service that people need to buy more than once, or you need to have add-ons that people can purchase. For example, a kitchen retailer is not likely to sell a customer more than one kitchen in the space of 10 years. However, they could diversify their offering to include wardrobes or office storage in order to encourage customers to come back. 

Once you are clear on what you want people to purchase (and develop range extensions if necessary), the key thing to building customer loyalty (repeat custom) is a good product and service. Note: not "or" service. It is the service and experience of the purchase that will also influence the decision of whether to repeat buy or not. Whatever you think about the promises you make - from initial contact through marketing, all through the customer journey and every touch-point through to post-purchase follow-up - it is the customer that knows and experiences the reality. It is a breakdown between the two which can end the possibility of repeat business.

Having a single, consistent, customer-orientated agenda throughout your organisation will help ensure that everyone delivers the ‘brand promise’. It should not just be down to the sales and marketing employees. Whether it is finance, HR, or IT, everyone needs to buy in to this attitude and belief to create an effective customer culture. 

Neilsen research shows that there has been a shift in customer loyalty since 2013, and switching brands, retailers or service providers is now more readily influenced by price (70% vs 54% in 2013). Whilst it is never sensible to compete on price, it is worth noting that customers are more fickle than they ever have been and that to retain customers you will need to ensure a strong level of brand loyalty. 

Successful brands use psychology for building customer loyalty. Throughout our life, we establish our own identity and want to build relationships with people that are in some way "like us". Being identified with a brand is a useful shortcut to achieving this. As consumers, we buy into the image that is associated with the brand, and so it becomes part of who we are. Interestingly, we use our consumerism to signal to people around us who we are. 

Additionally, there is a thought process involved in choosing one brand over another that works like a medical placebo – there can be a change in the customer’s feelings and people genuinely believe in brand benefits – and will go as far as to recommend them to others. Loyalty is often confused with familiarity – we are creatures of habit and change is uncomfortable. As a result of this, we find it easier to shop in the same store week in, week out, rather than go to an alternative; simply because we are unfamiliar with the layout, the brands on offer, the service, etc. Using your business values can be a great way to build this loyalty in to everything you do.

There are some marketing tips to help develop repeat business beyond the brand loyalty psychology. There is the all too obvious loyalty card scheme – however, the reward will need to have a perceived value greater than the purchases they have made. Buying 6 cups of coffee to get 1 free just is not going to generate significant loyalty or repeat custom these days. If you are launching a loyalty or points collection scheme, think about the reward at the start of the process – there has to be something in it for the customer. The sole objective is not to boost your sales and profits. 

Sending reminders to people can also generate repeat business. Insurance companies have this down to a fine art. Reminders about house, car, pet insurances – a constant stream of prompts can encourage people to come back to your business. 

If you are mailing a product then use fast delivery. As a customer, being delighted at an item arriving the next day is likely to drive them to repeat use of your outlet. Equally, consider the packaging and presentation of your products and make your customer feel special when they open their package. 

Send thank you notes, include them in your packages or sales bags; or if you have just finished a contract, send a thank you card. Make your client feel appreciated and special.

If you get a customer complaint, deal with it. A customer has taken the time to reach out to you – to engage – so deal with it properly. An effective rectification of a problem can illustrate your customer service and ironically lead to repeat business.

Keep your brand name top of mind, and stay in touch with your customers. You can do this by phone, email, social media, etc. – which ever channel they use and respond to. 

If you have a database of customers, then you could try and segment them and use their shopping habits to drive the messages that you send them.
It costs between 4 and 10 times as much to find a new customer as it does to hold on to an existing one. Retain customers by showing them that you value their business.


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Written by:

Deborah Goodall

Marketing expert

Email Address:

Telephone: 07903 387 143