Customer retention is all about how your company maintains its client base and how it creates a loyal following. Customer retention is a big function of customer satisfaction. Develop a few tactics aimed at creating loyal customers by discovering what they most want.

Here are a few methods you might consider:

  1. Clubs. Both large and small retailers offer clubs customers can join. With membership, the customer gets various benefits, including special discounts, advanced notice on sales, and more. In exchange, the retailer gets repeat – and loyal — customers.
  1. Over-deliver. Another way to approach customer retention is to give them something extra at no cost. Over-deliver on quality and service for the money. Offer your customers value, and they will reward you by returning, and referring you to their friends.
  1. Consistency. With consumer brands, people don’t have a reason to change unless the price goes up or quality goes down, or they don’t have access to your product. Once you have demonstrated your brand has consistency and continuity, your customer will think, “I can depend on it. It’s the same product I bought before. I have no reason to waste my time looking for something else.”
  1. Authenticity. Brands with authenticity retain customers because the customer takes personal pride in owning the brand. The customer is not going to buy a knock-off. They don’t want the brand cheapened. And they will pay more for the authentic brand. Levi’s, Rolex, and TIFFANY are good examples of brands that have proven they are authentic and consistent, thus, they enjoy a fiercely loyal following.
  1. Outreach. Customer retention is improved through various kinds of outreach. A good exchange policy is outreach. Having an 800-number on your product is another. Perhaps the most important form of outreach is a customer service department that does more than just take complaints. Make the most of the opportunity of talking with an end-user who cares enough to reach out with a complaint. The feedback they can provide is more valuable than any you could get from a focus group. Your customer service department should inquire about things like what improvements could be made to the product, what the customer needs, and where the customer made the purchase. Once you’ve gathered feedback from your customer, your company should have a system for this valuable feedback to be communicated to your design, production, and marketing departments. Companies that are proactive with customer satisfaction stay ahead of the curve.
  1. Stay relevant. Your company is not going to enjoy customer retention if your product isn’t relevant to your customer anymore. Stay on top of competing products entering the market, and stay abreast of how your loyal customers’ needs change as they age. HP is a good example of a company that re-invented themselves based on changing consumer needs. Constantly get feedback from your customer – not only the distributor or managers.

Customer retention requires ensuring customer satisfaction on as many levels as possible. In my experience, by developing these tactics aimed at satisfying your current customers, you’ll ensure that they will be coming back for more of your product for many years to come.

Of course, there’s much more that could be said on this subject. What’s been your experience? Michael Houlihan, co-founder of Barefoot Wine, the largest selling wine brand in the nation, invites you to join the discussion on Customer Retention with your comments, thoughts, and opinions below.