6 Tips for Small Business Owners to Create Customer Loyalty
By James Murray
After the initial high, small businesses can find it tough to hold their ground in the midst of increased competition. While there’s a lot you can do to stand out from the rest and increase your sales, you can’t undermine the importance of retaining your existing customers and building customer loyalty. After all, repeat customers not only contribute to your profits, they also help boost revenue by bringing in new customers!
Luckily for you, customer retention doesn’t have to be worrisome and if you’re looking for tips to get started on treating your customers right, you’ve come to the right place. Read on for 6 tips on retaining customers and creating loyalty.
1. Respond to Customers Promptly
Giving a prompt response to a customer or a potential customer who reaches out to you can create trust and loyalty immediately. Even if you don’t address concerns or resolve issues outright, sending a brief reply within 24 hours stating that you’ve understood their problem and that you are working to sort things out for them will go a long way in establishing long-lasting relations.
2. Resolve Issues
Don’t forget to act on your promises; work to resolve customer queries in a timely manner. When a dissatisfied customer gets in touch with you regarding an issue, think of it as an opportunity to rectify your mistakes and provide better service.
Most importantly, make it easy for customers to communicate their problems with your company. Also ensure that you have capable employees to handle customer complaints that come in through all channels.
3. Track Customer Activity
Use comprehensive analytical software to track your customers’ activities on your website and social media pages. Use the data collected to identify your best customers and learn what influences them to make a purchase or leave positive feedback.
Collecting and assimilating data will also enable you to identify customer groups and keep a tab on customers depending on the frequency of their visits, type of purchases, and amount of money they spend on your products or services. Use this knowledge to provide your customers tailored experiences that will eventually help build loyalty!
4. Take Advantage of Customer Loyalty Programs
It’s easy to think of customer loyalty programs as being a drain on your small business budget. However, this doesn’t have to be true for your business if you design a cost-effective program that will prove to be beneficial in the long run. Start with an easy opt-in program where you simply ask customers to share their e-mail addresses with you at the point of sale, and communicate new products and special offers only available to loyal customers via e-mail.
Further to this, utilize customer activity data to guide your loyalty program and reach out to customers with targeted promotions and offers. A good idea is to shun printing cards and embrace a digital rewards system instead!
Note that giveaways might not appeal to all your customers and if you don’t go about it judiciously, you might end up devaluing your products or services. So be careful with your choice of rewards and try to make them unique. If possible, offer experiential rewards; for example, a health resort could offer workshops on healthy eating.
5. Appreciate Customers
Consider sending customized notes or personalized chocolate bars to customers who make purchases above a particular amount or make several purchases during a given time frame. Do feature your loyal customers on your website and social media pages too by holding regular contests. This will not only make your customers feel valued but will also generate a buzz and increase word-of-mouth publicity.
6. Welcome Customer Feedback
A great way to show your customers that you’re striving to improve is to welcome feedback and advice. Ensure that leaving feedback is easy and less time-consuming; customers shouldn’t have to navigate 3-4 pages or look hard for the feedback page or e-mail address.
If you come across brilliant suggestions, act on them and give credit to customers who came up with those ideas. Do share their names and ideas on your website and social media pages (with their permission)!
Additionally, be proactive and make a list of ideas you’re planning to implement. Create a poll and invite your customers to vote for ideas they’d love you to put into practice. Announce incentives to increase the number of participants! You can use free online tools to create surveys and display results to bring down expenses.
While targeting new customers can keep the cash flowing, it definitely requires more work than focusing on old customers and retaining them! That being said, retaining old customers and instilling a sense of loyalty in them isn’t a piece of cake and you’ll have to work hard to stand out from the competition.
With the tips given here, you now know how to win the trust of your customers and stay ahead of your competitors. So get started on implementing customer retention strategies that work right away and keep your small business kicking!
James Murray, who is a freelance writer. He enjoys writing about small business financing or alternative business financing tools on websites like San Diego Business Financing and Primary Funding.