Most businesses know that getting new customers the first time can take a lot of effort.
Some businesses get that first-time customer by offering generous discounts up front, similar to what cable or internet service companies use. Other times, it's accomplished by making big promises of what the product can do for them in the hopes they take the risk, hoping their purchase pays off.
But it can be even harder to get someone to come back a second time for another purchase. Why? Let's take a look at the usual reasons—and how you can flip them so you'll get that return customer.
1. They purchased your product or service with a discount.
As I mentioned earlier, many companies think an effective way to get a first-time customer is to offer them a discount. The problem is that many customers will buy a product for less but never at full price.
This was the attraction of using discounted deal sites initially. Businesses hoped that customers would try their service at a 50 percent or more discount and then return to buy at the regular price. Their thinking was that the discount was a necessary cost of acquisition because the lifetime value of a that customer made it worth it.
But this rarely happened. Customers that were attracted at a discount did not automatically want to come back to pay for the same product or service at full price. As a result, some business owners offer a discount not on the first visit, but on the second and third visit to make sure that they came back.
2. They think the product or service they buy is a commodity.
As a commodity, a customer's decision to purchase is typically based only on price or convenience. For example, for many customers who don't use a specific gas credit card, it makes no difference where they buy the fuel for their car and what brand they purchase.
If a customer views what they want this way, then they will purchase it from one company one time and then buy it from another place the next time.
In order to get customers to come back to you whenever they need your product or service, you can make sure the customer gets something else in addition to what they are purchasing.
Many buyers want an experience or a relationship with the company more than just getting the product or service. For example, in an urban city, most movie theater locations play the same 10 movies. But now some theaters offer reclining seats, alcohol and high-end food choices to enhance the movie experience and to attract customers.
When business owners find new ways to add to the customer experience, it can help them separate themselves from their competition. For example, many companies that sell beauty products feature in-store digital applications for consumers to test them, as well as offer make-up demonstrations and tutorials.
3. They don't see the company as solving an ongoing pain.
People always buy to solve some great need or pain. If a product or service does not solve an ongoing pain, then a customer may only buy from a company once and never again.
Let's take a home inspection company for instance. Home buyers typically need a home inspector when they purchase a new house, so they may only call for that service once every 10 years.
To help sidestep this problem, the home inspector could expand his or her business to find a customer who has a permanent pain. They could target real estate brokers (not the individual home buyer) who will always have purchasers that need new house inspections, thereby improving their repeat business.
4. They did not have an exceptional customer experience.
Companies typically only get one chance to wow the customer. Sometimes they fall short, and as a result, there isn't a good enough reason for that customer to come back again.
This can happen when companies only focus on getting the customer to buy and not on the experience of actually using their product or service.
Mapping out the entire customer journey can help improve customers' experiences with your company. This starts with identifying the "personas" or types of customers that purchase from you. Then, you can document all the different touch points where the customer interacts with the business throughout this journey.
Parallel to this, try to identify expectations customers have at each stage of the process. Then you can determine any gaps with how the product or service meets or misses these expectations, and document any point in the journey where things typically go wrong.
It is also important to identify the critical moments in the customer's journey when they will formulate a strong opinion of the company. Finally, you can analyze where improvements can be made and note the actions your company will take as a result.
Read more articles on customer relations.