3 Reasons Happy First-Time Visitors Don’t Become Repeat Customers

From collecting better data to speaking to your customers in ways that resonate, there are many different steps businesses can take to build loyalty among their customer base and turn first-timers into repeat customers


Why don’t satisfied customers turn into repeat visitors? And how do you get more of them to come back another time, and possibly another time after that? Start with these big three reasons you might be missing.

Most consumers conduct dozens of transactions every week, and most of those experiences are neutral, if not positive. But will you go back to those businesses? Some of those you’ll return to repeatedly. Others you’ll never do business with again – even though, by all accounts, you were satisfied with the transaction. This is a common phenomenon: Every day, at businesses across the world, customers have good experiences but never return for a second transaction. Turns out, this equates to a significant loss for businesses: according to a BIA/Kelsey study, repeat customers spend 67% more than new ones.  Whether your business is an everyday stop like a coffee shop or a high-end auto dealer, that’s a lot of money left on the table by otherwise satisfied customers. So why don’t satisfied customers turn into repeat customers? And how do you get more of them to come back another time, and possibly another time after that? Start with these big three reasons you might be missing.

1. There’s Nothing Different About You

Each of us is exposed to thousands of messages and brands every day and sometimes it all just blurs together. Specifically, when it comes to our purchases and the brands we interact with, we remember the ones who are just a bit different from the crowd. We remember purchases that are super cheap and feel like a bargain. We remember purchases that were expensive but still exceeded the cost with value. We remember brands that spoke to our specific tribe, or solved a significant problem. In other words, pick your shot and be different, brands. Don’t try to be everything to everyone. A Wunderman study found that 89% of US consumers say they’re loyal to brands that share their values. Find your audience and speak specifically to their needs better than any of your competitors. They’ll be more likely to comprehend your value, personalize their connection, and turn into repeat customers.

2. They’re Happy – But Not Thrilled

A GfK survey revealed that 30% of US consumers change brands often just for the sake of variety and novelty. People are habitually disloyal, for the most part. To stem the tide, give them your best shot. Act like they’re never coming back – because most of them won’t. The key is knowing what your best possible experience is. What’s the tipping point for your brand? We call it filling in the blank. “To get the most out of my offering, my customers need to _______.” It doesn’t have to be complicated. Maybe it’s a certain dessert item on your menu or even just getting a signup reward for joining your loyalty program. Whatever it is, your goal is to try to get every customer who comes in the door to experience it.

3. You Haven’t Asked

Lastly, and most importantly, people won’t return to your business simply because you haven’t given them a reason to. Here’s the thing: if they’re completing a transaction with you, at that moment, customers are yours. A ClickFox survey says 60% of customers decide if a brand is one of their favorites immediately after their first purchase or service begins. That is when you need to ask them to go steady, so to speak.  But, don’t outright ask them to just come back. Instead, reward their decision to do business with you and get their contact information. Which brings me to the solution to many of these problems…

Key Takeaway: Make a Love Connection to Create Repeat Customers

If there’s one thing to take away from this, it’s to never lose contact. Capture every customer who comes in the door, if you can, and follow up with them quickly to earn that second visit.

  • 51% of U.S. consumers are loyal to brands that interact with them through their preferred channels of communication (Accenture)

Maybe it’s a loyalty program (editor’s note: it’s probably a loyalty program!). It could be an SMS club or even a simple email list. If nothing else, an Instagram follow or Facebook like will suffice. However you do it, just make that connection and keep the lines of communication open. If their first transaction was great, your contact with help reminds them of that. If it was bad, you’re more likely to hear about it when you proactively reach out. And yes, you always want to hear about the bad experiences.

Besides collecting feedback, use your open line of dialog to engage and educate. Don’t just fire over sales pitches —Show your personality! Share brand news and helpful tips. Focus on quality, shareable content, and rewarding experiences for continued business. Most customers won’t be turned into loyalists. Many won’t return for a second transaction, However, communicating your unique value proposition to them and showing them why you’re different will put you in position to earn that second visit (and maybe a third…)

Brandon Carter is a customer engagement and loyalty analyst and writer for Access Development. He maintains the internet’s largest database of engagement and loyalty statistics and publishes new articles weekly at the Access Development blog.

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