By Alison Stanton

As a small-business owner, you strive to offer amazing products and services at affordable prices. But, as you’re likely well aware, your business runs the risk of closing its doors if your customers don’t receive the same benefits or overall brand experience at every transaction.

This is why the relationships you forge with your customers are crucial, as they can make or break your business. With all this in mind, here are four effective ways to create stronger customer relationships in order to maintain top-notch brand loyalty.

1. Get to Know Them

As a sole proprietor working long hours, you can get so caught up in day-to-day business affairs that it becomes easy to forget your customers are just like you, with similar family and work-related obligations. Even if you’re great at remembering names, what they typically purchase and how to “sell them,” going the extra mile can help you earn some extra points.

For example, recall previous interactions with your customers and ask follow-up questions related to their son or daughter’s school work, impending graduation or your overall family life. You can also stir up conversation by asking them about any potential weekend plans and then share a bit about what you like to do in your spare time.

Do you have a passion for sports? If you see a customer wearing a favorite team jersey or hat, that also tends to be a good conversation starter and way to find common ground. Indeed, enjoying some non-work-related conversation with your customers can strengthen your relationships and provide extra incentive for them to continue doing business with you.

2. Protect Their Crucial Data

Depending on the type of small business you run, you likely have amassed a wealth of personal customer data that’s stored on your cloud-based customer relationship management platform. From customers’ names and addresses to credit card, invoice and order information, you have a great deal of sensitive information at your fingertips.

To keep this valuable data as safe and secure as possible, assure your customers you always have their best interests at heart by backing up their personal information via encrypted cloud-based software. For example, explain to your customers that you’re part of the Mozy Reseller programand are serious about protecting their personal and financial information at all times.

3. Ask for Feedback and Act on It

As The Balance notes, another effective way to build strong customer relationships is to solicit feedback after a sale. Not sure how to go about it? Conduct a customer satisfaction survey via phone or email, or simply provide comment cards near the register. Once you’ve collected this feedback, immediately look for ways to act on anything that needs to be remedied.

For example, if a customer shares that part of their order went missing, replace the item immediately and offer a discount on the next sale. This will show customers that you’re committed to providing round-the-clock satisfaction and provide extra incentive for them to continue doing business with you in the future.

4. Go Above and Beyond

As MBO Partners explains, one of the best ways to help build strong relationships with your customers is to exceed their expectations any number of ways when it comes to providing top-notch service and satisfaction. To do this effectively, avoid the temptation to oversell your company and promise things in which you cannot deliver.

At the same time, try to go beyond what you initially promised, and, if you have room in your budget, reach out to customers during the holiday season with a personalized card or small token of your appreciation.

Alison Stanton has been a freelance writer for the past 18 years. Based in Phoenix, Arizona, Alison thoroughly enjoys writing about a wide variety of people and topics. When she is not writing, Alison can be found hanging out with her family—which includes three wonderful rescue dogs—and sipping a caffeinated beverage from Starbucks.