If you are focusing all your efforts on finding new customers as opposed to servicing those you already have, your priorities may need re-evaluation. Repeat business is less expensive than new business; to get a new customer to your site, you may have to spend thousands on research and marketing—but that’s already taken care of with an existing customer. Here are six ways to leverage your existing customer base, and to add value to the work you did in order to get them.

computer mouse buying online

1.    Make a good first impression. If you make a mistake with your first sale to a customer, there likely won’t be a second. For new customers, deal with even the smallest details as professionally as possible. Correspondence should be done formally, with personalized greetings and clear-spoken phone manners at all time. Keep customers informed from purchase to delivery, and contact them afterward to ensure they’re satisfied with your product.

2.    File important customer information. It sounds like common sense, but you would be shocked to see the number of firms that don’t keep accurate sales records. Create a file for each customer, to include their name, contact information and mailing address, a record of what they’ve bought and a listing of any feedback they’ve given. If you have a larger online business, consider purchasing CRM (customer relationship management) software. It can be pricey, but it will facilitate the process of creating permanent records for your customers.

3.    Keep in touch. Sending out email, phone and SMS alerts can be effective, but sending them too often can be seen as annoying or invasive. If you’re going to send sales pitches, make sure you blend them with value-added, relevant information. Ask them for their opinion of their original purchase, or simply inquire as to how they’re doing.

4.    Consider offering some specials. If you offer your current customers a 30% discount or a buy-one-get-one promotion, you’re showing them (and the entire world) that you appreciate your business. You could also consider offering a free trial of new products to your existing customer base; even if they don’t buy it, they’ll appreciate the thought.

5. Add some personal touches. There are a variety of ways you can show your customers just how much their business means to you. It can go as far as sending a small gift like chocolates or flowers, or it can be as simple as ensuring that each order is sent out with proper and sturdy packaging.

6.    Increase your online presence. Even if your website is top-tier, you should think about how you can improve it. For instance, you can create a user forum, an online newsletter, or offer customers the chance to post links to their websites.Don’t forget about social media—add customers as Facebook friends or follow them on Twitter.

Even if you have a large and loyal customer base, you should never rest on your laurels. Keep a close watch on your competition—from their pricing structure to the products they offer—because customers will always leave if they can find a better or more cost-effective product somewhere else.

This article was written by Crispin Jones on behalf of UK Packaging, packaging experts. Find out more about packaging on their site.