No matter how great your business is, you have a good chance of failing if you don’t cater to your customers. This includes creating customer loyalty. It’s harder to get a new customer than it is to keep a returning current customer.
Treat Your Employees Right
Yes, your employees. They are the ones who interact with customers. If you have an unhappy employee, it will come across to the customer – and that customer may not come back if he or she had a bad experience. All it takes is once.
Make your employees love working for you and they will love making customers return. Even if you do nothing other than praising your employees for a good job, they will know they are appreciated and will treat your business as their own. If you can afford it, give bonuses. Even if the bonus is a small bonus once a year, your employees will know you appreciate them. You could also run an employee of the month contest, too, and put up a plaque that is in sight of customers.
Always be sure to communicate with your customers. If someone comes in to buy something or hires you for your services and you never speak with that person again, he or she is most likely going to forget about you. Communication is a great way to remind customers who you are and what a great job you did for them – or that you sold them a quality product. Newsletters, fliers in the mail or even an email to make sure the customer is still happy with your product or service are all good ways to “remind” the customer of your products or services.
If you set up a database, you’ll have the customers’ emails, mailing addresses, phone numbers and even birthdays, if you ask for that information. Customers love getting a personalized note or small gift on their birthday. It shows that not only do you provide quality products and service, but that you care about your customers.
Admit it – you love getting free stuff. So do your customers. If you have a customer that spends a lot of money with you – or even a customer that spends little, but consistently comes into your store or hires you for your services, give that customer a perk. It might be in the form of a percentage off on his or her next purchase, a free gift or even a free service.
Even something small, such as being able to enter your store before other customers or special VIP pricing on select products or services will show a customer that he or she is appreciated – and a happy customer is a returning customer.
Watch the Technology
While technology is great, automated phone services are an annoyance. Instead of using automated phone services, hire a person whose sole job is to answer phones and provide customer service over the phone. If you have a larger company, it’s worth hiring a few or more live customer service agents. You’ll build more loyalty over a business that in all other aspects is equal to yours but uses an automated phone service.
On the other end of the spectrum, make it easy for a customer to access his or her account. A customer may want to check his or her balance, make a payment or even order more products or services. This option gives a customer a choice of calling you or taking a few quick minutes to get business done through the computer.
Provide Great Customer Service
You’re probably wondering why this is on the list when it’s the most obvious thing in the world. Even if you do everything to bring in repeat customers, they are not going to come, no matter how much you coddle to them, if you don’t provide the best customer service. This means that you smile while speaking to your customers. You – or your employees – are always polite. And always be sure to be helpful to a customer. If a product that is less expensive is better for the customer, don’t try to upsell. The customer will not be happy with a product that he or she can’t make use of. And, always upsell if the pricier alternative is clearly the best. Always explain to the customer why you believe the other option is better.
When you treat customers as you would expect to be treated, you will earn customer loyalty, and that means repeat business. In turn, your business will thrive as those repeat customers will be sure to tell their friends about you – just as they would if you provided bad service, a poor product or shoddy customer service.