What’s the one thing your startup needs to succeed? That’s right, customers. You need customers to generate income and help grow your company. But, it runs much deeper than that. You could get loads of new customers every month. However, these customers could make one-off purchases never to return again.

As a business, you need to work on retaining your customers. Keep them coming back for more, and you’ll generate a more steady income. So, here are some customer retention strategies you should consider:

1. Offer loyalty rewards

One of the most proven ways of improving retention rates is through loyalty rewards. This is where your customers get rewarded for sticking with your business. The more money they spend, the bigger their rewards will be. It can increase your loyal customer base, and ensure you retain a large proportion of your customers.

There are so many businesses that adopt this type of tactic. All the major supermarkets offer people the chance to earn ‘points’ when they shop. The more they shop, the more points they gain. Then, they can transfer these points to money and use them to pay for things in the store.

This type of tactic should be adopted by your startup too. Offer customers the chance to get a rewards card. They can use this card to gain loyalty points, which can be turned into money. Simple, effective, and proven to work.

2. Send unique discount codes

A surefire way to ensure people keep coming back to your business is by sending them discount codes. These codes are unique, as they’re reserved for your loyal customers. People can’t get these codes if they’ve ever been a customer before.

This is a great idea as it provides people with an incentive to keep using your business. They’ll return, and you get to boost your retention rates.

Sending the codes is simple too, you have two options. You can email them, or you can post it in the mail. Email is good as you can provide direct links to your website too. This makes life easier for them, and they may go ahead and buy something straight away. But, mail is also a very effective idea.

Use direct mail services to send customers unique and personal cards. In these cards you can include the discount code they can use. There’s more chance someone will open a letter with their name on it than open an email. Some people ignore any emails that aren’t important. Still, I say use both methods for the best effect.

3. Always offer great customer service

The way you treat your customers is so important regarding customer retention. Treat them badly, and they’ll soon be on their way. You have to realise that you aren’t the only business out there. If someone doesn’t like how they’ve been treated, they’ll go to one of your rivals instead. So, great customer service is absolutely essential.

Achieving great customer service is easy, just follow some key principles. First, put the customer’s interests first. If someone comes to you with an issue regarding a product/service they bought, you need to listen. Make their interests a priority, and work on making things better for them.

Next, you have to respond to customers quickly. Make your business easy to contact by offering various customer service options. As a result, people have more ways to get in touch, and you can reply to them quicker.

Finally, always be positive and show your customers you’re happy to help. Service them with a smile on your face, and make them feel worthwhile. By doing this, their experience of your company will be positive. So, they won’t leave you, and you’ll retain more customers.

4. Connect with your customers

Many experts believe that customers stay loyal to a business they can connect with. When you feel connected to a brand, there’s more chance you’ll stick with it. So, creating that connection should be a top priority for your startup.

It all revolves around building your brand. Make your brand values something important that people can connect with. I also suggest ensuring your startup supports certain causes.

For example, you could become an ambassador for certain charities. When your customers see this, it makes them connect with you more. They’ll be amazed by your support, particularly if it’s a cause they believe in too.

If you want to improve customer retention for your startup, then you must use these ideas. They all work to get customers coming back to your business for more. As a result, you build a large base of loyal customers.

Founding Editor @Alltopstartups, Contributor @Entrepreneur, Columnist @Inc. Magazine and Curator at Postanly (his free weekly digest of the best life and career improvement posts on the web. Subscribe for free.