As a small business owner, I'm sure you want to increase the growth of your business. I'd bet you also want to maintain the loyalty of every customer, whether they are new or long-time customers. Customer loyalty is an incredibly important aspect for the success of any small business. It costs a significant amount of money to acquire new customers. Having systems in place to keep those new customers coming back will not only save you money, it will increase your business too.
Providing the best customer experience possible will go a long way to encouraging loyalty and engagement with your customers. Here are seven strategies to help you.
Employees should not only be knowledgeable in all aspects of your business, they should be empowered to solve issues quickly. Each employee should strive to provide accurate answers and politely answer customer questions. When it comes to customer service, patience is key. It can be very frustrating for employees to deal with an irate customer, but solving issues courteously and promptly can go a long way in keeping the customer long term.
A negative experience will surely have a huge impact on the customer's perception of your business and determine whether they will choose to do business with you in the future. By creating a delightful experience through easy, efficient customer service, you will build long-term relationships with your customers.
Let's face it, customers like to feel important. One big way to make them feel important is to have interaction with management and the owner. Have you ever been in a restaurant where you see the manager or owner walking around from table to table greeting and chatting with customers? How did it make you feel? Pretty good right?
I realize management can't get involved in every customer interaction, it's not feasible. However, choosing strategic opportunities to get involved will go a long way in making your customers feel important and appreciated. Management must do their part and not entrust everything to other employees.
There is something special about dealing with management or the owner of the company. By showing this level of engagement, your customers will feel like they are a priority. This may be hard to do especially when you are busy running the business, but spending a bit of your precious and valuable time will be worth it in the long run.
Are you thinking of making some changes to your business? Don't assume you know what your customers want...ask them. Get them involved in the process. Most customers are more than happy to share their opinions when asked. The benefit to this is twofold:
Speaking with customers about their experience with your business will help you gather valuable data about your customer experience. Are you meeting expectations? Are you exceeding them? Where are you falling short?
Actively listen to them as they speak and politely ask them about what they want or what other things you can do to improve your service. By taking this time with the customer, you will know where the reputation of your business stands and what steps you may need to take to fix any issues.
This is another great strategy to show your customers you care and value their opinion, making them feel special.
Customers love to be rewarded for their loyalty. Even new customers will make an effort to maintain their relationship with you if they know they will be rewarded with special offers exclusive to long-time customers.
Loyalty programs may include freebies, discounts, points or any offer that communicates how special and important they are to your business. Keep in mind, the further out the perceived reward is for the customer the less motivating it will be. To encourage your customers to support your business frequently, they should be able to earn rewards quickly.
Successful loyalty programs are one of the most effective marketing strategies out there. Look no further than Starbucks and Amazon Prime for excellent examples. Design a loyalty program that suits the needs of your customers and keeps it simple. Complicated loyalty programs are confusing and will not motivate your customers to take action.
Social media can be a fast and cost-effective way to connect with your customers. It can also be a great customer service tool. Almost all customers of any business-type are using social media. You need to figure out which channel(s) most of your customers are on and start using them.
Customers like to share great experiences (and negative ones) via social media. Being active on the appropriate social media channels and making it easy for customers to share their experiences will build social proof for your business. Like it or not, potential customers are making decisions based on your online reviews. You want to do everything you can to build a wealth of positive experiences about your company.
Social media can also be a great way to reward your loyal fans. Provide them offers or promotions as a way to say "thank you" for their participation and support.
What feelings or emotions come up when you think of "community"?
For most people, I think a sense of community makes them feel like they belong. It's a comfortable, safe place they enjoy being a part of. Those are powerful feelings that will make customers incredibly loyal to your business.
Figure out how you can create a sense of community with your customers and your business will have a loyal following that will drive revenue growth for years to come.
Your customers are the lifeblood of your business. These tips will help you keep them happy and coming back for more.
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PS. Any business looking to improve communication with their audience and drive customer loyalty can benefit from a mobile app. Small business owners in the salon & spa, bar & club, restaurant, retail, hospitality and nonprofit industries are seeing success with mobile apps. Is a mobile app right for your business? CLICK HERE to find out.
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Tim Fitzpatrick is the President & Founder of Rialto Mobile Marketing. At Rialto Mobile Marketing we create marketing systems to help small businesses achieve simple, sustainable growth. We're the bridge between where you are and where you want to be.