Constant communication is vital when dealing with customer retention


In the best of times, customer retention is critical to small business success. But these days, with marketing dollars being slashed and customer acquisition budgets going down the drain, it is more important than ever to hold onto your customers.

Leanna Haag

Leanna Haag earned a bachelor’s degree in science and administration with an emphasis in marketing at the University of Central Florida. Her professional experience includes corporate marketing positions with Jeppesen and Allstate Insurance, where she developed and executed regional and national tactical marketing plans. Haag founded and launched See Level Marketing in 2009 to support Treasure Coast businesses in developing and managing their online presence and digital media strategies. Since 2010, she has been teaching internet marketing workshops to local businesses through the Corporate and Community Training Center at IRSC in conjunction with her role at See Level Marketing. Go to for more information.

Acquiring a new customer is five times more expensive than retaining one. Consider the well known 80/20 rule, which states that 80% of your company sales comes from 20% of your customers. Especially during this pandemic, customer happiness and retention is more vital than ever.

“Talking and listening to existing customers is even more important during this pandemic crisis,” said Leanna Haag, owner of See Level Marketing and CARES Act consultant for the Florida Small Business Development Center at Indian River State College. Haag advises that small business owners should be making regular and consistent contact with existing clients and customers to ask how they are doing and what they need. This regular contact can help inform customers about ways they can pivot their products or services to be more essential in our new normal.

Getting feedback from your customer is crucial. Getting your customers to record that digitally is even more helpful. When interviewing your customers, ask if you can record it on your phone. You can use this customer feedback on YouTube, in testimonials or snippets in marketing videos.

Don’t call it a survey. Explain to your customers this is part of your company’s process to ensure your company is meeting their changing needs.

Think of the most important things you need to know about your business. This could be the impacts of COVID-19 your customers are experiencing; feedback on user experience with your website; or how happy they are with your customer service. Think of all touchpoints customers have with your business and get feedback on those touchpoints, Haag suggested.

To business owners she suggests making a list of customers you want to reach and commit to do one a week, if not more. Identify a person on your team with this dedicated task to make sure it gets done, Haag said. Start with the questions that will likely solicit the most positive responses first.

A few of the questions she suggests includes: Why did you originally select our business to do business with? What do you like best about doing business with us? How easy is it to do business with us? What feedback do you hear from your team about our product or service? Do you use any other suppliers that have similar products and services? If so, is there an opportunity to increase our business? What is the best way we can help you achieve your goals? How has COVID-19 impacted how you do business with us?

“Socially distanced from normal business interactions with clients and customers, many business owners are seeking and searching for a return to normal face-to-face engagements,” Haag said. “For a business owner to make contact with a client or customer through a personal phone call could serve to create a level of loyalty that will long serve the business.”

In this new era the pandemic has created, prospects and customers are interacting with your website more than ever. The messaging on your website needs to be clear, concise and to the point. More time on the internet doing simple things like ordering food means less time to spend trying to figure out what your business can do to solve their problems. Your offer or solution needs to be front and center on your website with a clear call to action, Haag said.

Another consideration is your website needs to be easy for Google to understand, not just humans. With more search traffic than ever, it is very important to consider an investment in search engine optimization. Search engine optimization allows your website to be structured and coded in such a way that helps Google find you when users type a query into the search engine. If you have been on the fence about search engine optimization, now is the time to invest in it for the future. As more and more people turn to the internet to solve their problems, your website needs to be in the top 10 search results as the solution.

These tips can be summarized by one word: measurement. Measuring is the only way to see what is working.

• Utilize free services like Google Analytics. Google Analytics is a snippet of code that you or your web developer can put into your website. This code tracks a huge variety of data in your website… everything from what city your website visitors come from to which search terms they used to find you. You can set goals to track form submissions and see which pages are the most popular on your site too. All this data helps you become a better marketer.

• For all marketing activities, consider call tracking. Call tracking allows you to see from which marketing avenues people are finding you. Traditionally used for print advertising, call tracking is just as effective for internet promotions as well. If you are running an ad on Facebook, use a call tracking phone number to see how many calls are generated. If you run Google ads, it offers call tracking as well. Even down to sending out an email, you can measure impact with call tracking. If you are looking for a service to help you with this, Haag recommended CallRail as an inexpensive tool to help you accomplish effective call tracking.

• In addition to using call tracking and web metrics, the best measure of tracking the impact of your marketing campaigns is simply asking how the customer heard about you. This is a vital question that needs to be asked of every new prospect that calls in for a quote or to do research. Make this part of your sales process so you can effectively measure by which means prospects are hearing about you. Asking this question is not limited to prospects, however, also ask current customers how they heard of your latest promotion or sale. Gathering this data will help you make better marketing decisions as you go along.

This article is provided by the Florida SBDC at IRSC, the Small Business Development Center within Indian River State College’s School of Business. The center’s team of business experts works one-on-one with hundreds of entrepreneurs and business owners each year by providing confidential, no-cost consulting. The center’s mission is to help Treasure Coast businesses grow and succeed.

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