For most small businesses, acquiring new customers is more expensive than retaining current customers. Small businesses owners should prioritize increasing customer loyalty as a central part of their overall business plan. Owners should actively maintain their customer relationships, rather than focus solely on acquiring new customers. Doing so isn’t very hard or expensive!
Here are 10 tips for making sure your customers know they’re valued.
- Underpromise and Overdeliver
If you promise to respond to customer requests in 6 hours, get back to them in 2. Answer questions before the customer thinks to ask them. By anticipating your customer’s needs and then delivering service beyond what they expected, you’re cementing the customer’s trust in your business and in your ability to take care of them. Be careful to not set expectations too high!
- Be a Customer Yourself
One of the best ways to determine what actions or offers would increase your customer loyalty is to ask yourself what makes you loyal to the brands and companies in your life. If you choose Walgreens over CVS, ask yourself why. What makes one experience better than the other? How can you replicate that experience to get customers coming back to you over and over again?
- Surprise and Delight Them
A small, hand-written note in the product’s packaging box will make the customer smile. It’s not difficult to add this extra touch every once in a while, but this extra step shows the customer that you value their business – because you do! If a customer feels favorably about your brand, they are one step closer to bonafide customer loyalty.
- Deliver You-tility
In between the times your customers are buying things from you, keep delivering value to them. By giving away free and (more importantly) useful information that’s relevant to your customers, you’re providing them with “you-tility” that creates long-term trust amongst your customers.
- Take Customer Service Personally
Rather than “saving” money by automating phone calls or emails, make sure your customers can get in contact with a real person as soon as they ask for help. Customer service emails should be signed by a specific person, and a response to that email should go back to the same service representative. Little touches like this make the customer feel taken care of and will bring them back to your business in the future.
- Be Flexible
Within reason, offer your customers flexibility. A wedding planner could offer flexible payment terms to make the large sum more digestible. A retailer could accept returns with a full refund far after the deadline. Think creatively about how to bend in your customers’ favor.
- Get Your Employees on Board
Your employees will not automatically be as passionate about your product or service as you are. Get them involved and invested in creating a great experience for the customer by putting a premium on customer happiness. Reward excellent customer service and foster a sense of ownership of the customer experience among your employees. Everyone will be the better for it.
- Invest in the Right Customers
Make sure particularly loyal customers know you appreciate their business. Create a frequent buyer club to reward loyalty. Send an anniversary card to the client who has been buying from you regularly for a year. Depending on the nature of your business, these small investments will be different, but the intent is the same: go out of your way to let your most valuable customers know how much they mean to you.
When a customer gives feedback – especially criticism – listen carefully. It can be difficult to take criticism constructively, but even in harsh feedback there is usually a lesson to be learned. How can you anticipate that type of need better in the future? How can you avoid this problem next time? If you lose a customer, be careful to listen to the reasons why so you can keep your other customers.
10. Make Them Feel Heard
Slightly different from listening, making sure that customers feel heard is just as important. Send a feedback request after some of your orders or with your invoices. Ask specific questions. Did the customer feel their questions were answered in time? Did they feel you anticipated their needs? The best way to find out how you’re doing is to ask!