If your Web site is up and it's helping you find customers and make sales, then you're ready for the next step: Make sure those customers stay with you and return to buy more.

Here are my 7 tips for customer retention:

1. Learn their needs. The number-one reason customers state for cancelling a service is "I no longer need it." You need to find out why customers are saying they don't have a use for your company any more. Within that answer is a marketing or product-improvement opportunity.

2. Develop a "save" strategy. If a good customer is headed out the door, what is your game plan for keeping them? Develop your strategy ahead of time so that your staff understands what to do if they learn a customer is departing.

3. Engage. Reach out to your customers on multiple levels - let them sign up for newsletters, participate in user forums, comment on the company blog, send them special offers. The more relationships you have with your customers, the less likely they are to leave.

4. Build listening posts. These should be both online and in the 3-D world, from monitoring Twitter conversations about your brand and products/services to sending out surveys. Keep some survey questions constant over time so you can track trends - for instance, are your customers more likely to recommend you to a friend than they were last year? Once you know what customers are thinking, take action to implement some of their suggestions. Contact customers and let them know they were heard.

5. Talk to your customers directly. Call them up, or meet one-on-one if you can. They'll be honest about what they like and don't about your products or services. Don't just talk to your customers when it's time to bill them - stay in touch all year.

6. Make your company easy to find. Be sure your contact information appears on customers' charge-card slips. This will increase the odds that the customer will call you directly when they want to cancel - giving you a chance to hopefully save the relationship - instead of calling the charge-card company to cancel payment.

7. Resist price-slashing. Lowering price is not always the best way to save a customer. It can often backfire, possibly making the customer angry that they've been paying a higher price. A better way may be to suggest a different product or service that's more affordable.

By the same token, offering a month or two of free service or bonus products may help with customer acquisition, but it generally attracts many non-loyal customers. Make sure the revenue loss is worth it in the end.