Marketing, advertising, promotion, and publicity – all of them are geared towards acquiring new customers. While they are deemed to be effective, these tactics often require a hefty investment and lengthy processes that not all small business owners are fond of.
But did you know that it’s actually easy to sell your products and services to existing customers? And that they spend more money than newly acquired clients? Customer loyalty is a key factor towards building a thriving and growing business. The satisfaction, value, and trust customers give a certain brand make the way for repeat business transactions, leading to a healthy and long-lasting client-owner relationship.
But how do you keep them? Are there tips on how to retain customers without having to try too hard? Check out these easy but highly effective customer retention strategies and start building your own cult following for your small business.
Build a friendly and competent team
Unless you’re running a one-man show, your employees act as the face of your business. Good or bad, they represent your brand in front of your clients, and having a friendly and competent team of employees helps keep customer satisfaction at high levels.
Employees who feel valued often perform better in front of customers, so it is important to nurture and give them all the support they need. Likewise, they should have a strong sense of belonging to the group. Each member should have a deep level of commitment when it comes to group decisions and actions.
- The team should understand your goal and purpose to establish a good customer relationship.
- Make sure that there is honest, open, and respectful communication with each other.
- Conflicts should be resolved by establishing a mutual resolution for problems and disagreements.
Ask questions and listen to complaints
Another tip to improve customer retention is to ask for comments and feedback and then listen to customer complaints. How well do you know your business? As the owner, what’s good and positive to you might not be pleasing to your clients, and there’s no way to know unless you solicit feedback from your customers. Having a polite conversation with customers helps address potential issues before they become serious dilemmas.
Depending on how you view them, complaints can be an emotional rollercoaster. But handling them well and fixing things will help turn a bad incident into a positive customer experience. Keep in mind that dissatisfied customers will never come back for repeat business, while those who get their issues resolved will remain loyal to the brand.
- Use surveys to solicit customer feedback. Make them short and ask one question at a time.
- For complaints, always reassure customers but don’t forget to fix the problem.
- Comment boxes are old school, but adding a twist like a raffle to win a small prize will keep them going.
Build customer loyalty
Want to retain customers in the most effective but least expensive way? Loyalty programs work wonders to boost the number of returning customers. Loyalty programs are specifically designed to encourage customers to continue shopping or using the business’s services in exchange for an incentive or reward. These rewards can be in the form of free merchandise, coupons, special offers, and other deals related to products and services.
While loyalty programs are effective in increasing customer retention, they must be planned accordingly to prevent financial losses. Loyalty programs should offer actual value to your clients and not just ordinary discounts and average freebies. When done correctly, loyalty programs will certainly keep new and old customers coming back.
- Use a simple methodology such as a points system that isn’t complex and confusing.
- Develop a long term and short term tier program to introduce higher levels of commitment.
- VIP programs are okay as long as you are upfront with fees, charges, and actual benefits.
Build lasting relationships
The next tip to improve customer retention is to build a lasting relationship with your clients. If there is one advantage of small businesses over huge corporations, it’s the capability of owners and managers to entertain clients face to face. They always find time to make each customer feel important, valued, and appreciated, unlike large businesses that, although manned with hundreds of employees, often lack this so-called “human touch”.
Improving customer retention in a highly competitive market is undoubtedly difficult. But consumers are willing to pay more and choose to stay loyal if they are given a satisfactory experience. A friendly manager or polite owner taking their time to talk to clients is just one way to create a lasting business relationship. Below are some more tips:
- Offer a unique and personalized experience and communicate in a personal way.
- Build a rapport and continue your interaction even after the transaction is completed.
- To establish trust with your customers, be straightforward, open, and compassionate.
Stay top of mind
The last tip on how to retain customers is to stay top-of-mind, or in other words, be the leader of your trade. A trusted name, a well-known expert, a local household brand – whatever you want to call it, be the best in your niche. You need to be a strong brand that customers will think of whenever they need such a product or service.
Creating a buzz about your business is one proven way to build ongoing awareness. Getting the attention of everyone and aiming for your target market will soon start people talking about your business. By keeping things exciting, it will lead to higher customer engagement, and here’s how to achieve this:
- Update your social media account with all promotions, activities, and other business happenings.
- Offer weekly specials to entice customers such as discounts, freebies, coupons, limited items etc.
- Host regular events or gatherings and partner with other businesses to maintain market visibility.