No matter what industry you’re in, you have competitors. Some are big, national competitors and some are local small businesses. You will stand out from the crowd and earn fierce customer loyalty if you do a few things right. Start with these 10 things that are proven to work (based on my experience and the experience of other small business owners I know):
1. Focus on customer service
Fabulous customer service shows you care – about your customers, their needs and challenges, their happiness. Train your employees to be responsive, listen to concerns, apologize when necessary, and find out the answer if they don’t know it.
2. Pick up the phone
One of the easiest things you can do is call your customers – just because. You can call to say hi and just check in or find out how a project is going. Because phone calls are so rare these days, your customers will be thrilled to hear from you.
3. Provide freebies and discounts
Again, do this “just because.” Maybe you got a bunch of samples in the mail from a vendor or want to reward them for their loyalty. Either way, they’ll be surprised and delighted you thought of them.
4. Keep your promises
If you promise to get back to your customer with an answer on X day by X time, or deliver a package, or show up to perform a service, DO IT. If you’re not sure when you can do something, be generous with the timeline.
5. Be flexible
No business – big or small – can afford to have ironclad policies in place. There are exceptions to every rule, so if you can accommodate a customer’s request, do it.
6. Hold customer-only events
One of the most fun events I ever attended was a private wine tasting that our financial planner threw for their customers. You know your customers, so consider what type of event would appeal most to them – golf, happy hour, exclusive trunk show, etc.
7. Make beneficial introductions
I have a rather big network, so when I hear a client mention they need something and know a person who can help, I mention it immediately – and I follow through on the introduction quickly. It’s an easy way to show I have customers’ best interests in mind.
8. Create a loyalty program
You can do this for all of your customers or your VIP customers only. Either way, it’s a great way to incentivize purchases – and reward them for patronizing your small business.
9. Personalize offers
Segment your lists based on gender, age, demographics, purchase behavior, interests, etc. and then send each segment personalized offers that will appeal to what they care about. This shows that you care about and pay attention to the products, services, and topics they care about.
10. Ask for feedback – and follow up on it
Whether you do it during your check-in calls or via a survey, periodically ask your customers for feedback. What is working well? What can be improved? Then follow up on their feedback, explaining what you’ll be doing differently based on their input.
What does your small business do to build customer loyalty?