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Measuring and encouraging customer retention is important for businesses in many industries. There are a couple of great measures to see how you are doing in this area. We’ll explain those and provide some tactical tips in this article.

Measuring Customer Retention

The most common metric to measure customer retention is the customer retention ratio. The best report to run to gather the data for this is a Revenue by Customer Summary Report. Each customer should be listed in a row of your spreadsheet, and each year’s revenue for that customer should be listed in the columns.

From this report, you can get the following numbers. Let’s use 2020-2021 as our measurement period.

A = How many customers you had with sales in 2020

B = How many customers you had with sales in both 2020 and 2021

The formula is B / A, which will give you the retention ratio. The formula A – B will give you a count of how many repeat customers you lost.

C = How many customers you had with sales in 2021, but not 2020

Answer C will tell you how many new customers you gained in 2021. This doesn’t inform customer retention metrics, but it does help to know how many lost customers you replaced.

Now dollarize your figures.

D = 2020 total sales of customers you had with sales in both 2020 and 2021

E = 2021 total sales of customers you had with sales in both 2020 and 2021

The formula E / D measures the percentage increase or decrease in sales of your repeat customers, so that you can see as a trend whether they are buying more or less from you. A lot of factors go into being able to influence this number, including upsell and cross-sell opportunities over time, sales communications, your business model, and products offered to repeat customers.

One final measure is customer lifetime value, which is easy to pull. Run your Sales by Customer Summary Report for all of the years that you have in your accounting system, then sort by highest revenue. Your most valuable customer over the years included will be listed at the top of the report.

Want to compare how you’re doing with other businesses? Industry-standard value ranges for each of these metrics vary greatly and are beyond the scope of this article. However, your best competitor is yourself, and learning how you can improve your own results year after year can be time very well spent.

Encouraging Customer Retention

No matter what industry you’re in, the best thing you can do to improve customer retention is to maintain an email list of customers, so that you can communicate with them on an ongoing basis. Letting them know when you have sales, new products and services, and even new staff members can go a long way toward building long-term relationships.

Other ways to promote customer retention include:

  • Your business model – a VIP membership or subscription model with perks and special access and bonuses can work for numerous businesses to maintain customers
  • Rewards programs
  • Special events
  • Special gifts
  • Thank you notes
  • Special discounts or exclusive offers
  • Social media presence, especially groups and active engagement where questions are encouraged and answered

Anything to make your customers feel special will work to increase retention. Think about what you can do to increase customer retention, and make a plan to execute your ideas. If you’d like to find out more about calculating these metrics, please reach out.

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