Regardless of your industry, loyal customers are the backbone of your business — and the numbers prove it. Turning just 5% of first-time buyers into repeat purchasers can increase your profits by more than 25%. 

Like most companies, you’ll race to expand your portfolio and beat out competitors in 2023. However, new customer acquisition can cost five to 25 times more than customer retention. This means that adding 2022 clients onto your 2023 calendar could mean extra funds for future project budgets

Aside from saving money, repeat customers are both easier to sell to and easier to work with. Your team has already established the working relationship, meaning their time management processes don’t have to suffer due to unexpected issues. Additionally, repeat customers help promote your business, creating an easy avenue for word-of-mouth leads. 

It takes a combination of an excellent customer experience, quality products or services, and a little extra effort to create repeat clients. Here are a few tried and true methods to turning first-time clients into repeat customers. 

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Prove your long-term worth 

An easy strategy for encouraging repeat customers is to dig deeper on their immediate need and highlight how you can add continuous value by asking questions that reveal their overall goal. 

For example, let’s say a customer hired your design agency to refresh their website — your first step is to figure out their “why:” 

  • If they’re a retail business looking to get ahead of the holiday rush, explain how you can update the site each season to stay relevant. 
  • If they want to attract leads with a modern look, offer to regularly keep track of trends and refresh as needed. 

Keep in mind: pushing extra services for the sake of making extra money won’t help your customer retention rate — returning customers are built on genuine care. Underline with your questions and potential value that a continuous relationship is critical to their success. 

Be transparent

Your customers are more likely to stick around if they trust you — and one of the largest components of gaining trust is to be as transparent as possible. 

Nick Frandsen, co-founder of design agency Dovetail and longtime Harvest user, bases the Dovetail business model on building trust through transparency with each client. 

“We work with our companies almost like we’re part of that company. So there’s more trust, but the flip side is that we need to be really transparent with the work that’s going on.” 

Frandsen considers Harvest a key tool in building that trust by ensuring all projects are on track in real time. 

“Every day we’ll look across all the projects in our company and ask, How are we doing resourcing-wise on these projects? Are we hitting the targets? When we initially started, our projects were simpler and the company was simpler, and we used a lot of the Harvest reporting tools. Then, as projects and billing structures have gotten more complicated, what Harvest has allowed us to do is pull a lot of that data into various custom reports so we always have real-time reporting.” 

Simplify the exchange

It may go without saying that customer satisfaction greatly depends on how easy you and your team are to work with, but remembering that simple is always better is extremely important. Do your best to ensure the experience is a seamless one, starting with the initial discovery call and ending with the payment process. 

If the client can trust that your team will deliver on promises, deadlines, and quality with minimal roadblocks, they’ll be much more likely to extend their customer lifetime. Keep them in the loop on how the project is going — provide regular updates and answer any questions they may have throughout the process as soon as possible. 

Additionally, make sure the customer doesn’t have to jump through hoops to pay for your work. Review your current invoicing practices to prevent a giant headache connected to your compensation. 

Tip: Harvest time tracking gives your clients the power to pay you directly from the invoice with integrated online payments through Stripe and PayPal. They can even set up automatic recurring payments when they become repeat customers.

Start a customer loyalty program 

A loyalty program is a classic way to reward existing customers for their ongoing support. Even further, 75% of consumers say they favor brands that have loyalty programs in place. Your program can be as simple or complex as you like, but a few ideas include: 

  • Exclusive offers for loyalty program members 
  • Extra rewards for customers who refer others to your business
  • A bonus point system 
  • Membership prize drawings 
  • Top priority on projects for loyalty members 

Loyalty programs not only benefit your customers but also add to your insights — they’re a great way to keep track of your highest paying and most frequent clients. 

Request (and act on) customer feedback 

After you complete a project with a client, ask for feedback on the experience. This can be as simple as a post-project survey, or a more effective retention strategy is to conduct a customer business review. 

Customer business reviews are a great time to decide on a long-term partnership plan and alleviate concerns that might prevent them from working with you in the future. During the review, highlight the key accomplishments your team achieved, resolve any outstanding issues, and ask what you can improve upon in the future. 

Questions you should ask include: 

  • What do you hope to accomplish next year? 
  • Have we helped you achieve your goals so far? 
  • What would you like us to keep (or stop) doing?
  • Were there any challenges you experienced during this process??
  • What would you like to see more of? 
  • What can we improve upon in the future? 

Work these reviews into your customer service strategy to not only increase repeat customers but also to build loyalty with the existing ones. The end of the year is the perfect time to assess your quality of service with each client to ensure they don’t look elsewhere in 2023. 

As you build on existing client relationships in the coming year, Harvest is here to make your projects seamless for both the customer and your team. Our intuitive time management software turns your team’s tracked time and expenses into invoices and lets you collect payments quickly with integrated online payments. Get started with a free trial today