Nothing fuels a bottom line better than a revenue stream that’s solid and growing. But to hang onto existing customers, you need to inspire their loyalty. Consumers are always on the lookout for better value. And research suggests that, regardless of the industry, passive or indifferent clients will often switch product or service providers - even when they’re relatively satisfied.
Your customers don’t need an excuse to take their business elsewhere, so use these 5 loyalty tips to give them a reason to stay.
Show Your Customers Some Love
Don’t limit your effort to treat clients well to those times when they’re actively purchasing from you. The simplest of gestures can make a big impact on loyalty, so consider reaching out with:
- personalized holiday or birthday greetings,
- invitations to customer appreciation events and new product launches, or
- courtesy alerts for future promotions and sales
Offering a points or rewards program is another great way to show clients you care. A loyalty program not only keeps customers coming back to your business, it can encourage them to spend more while they’re there. And programs that reward clients for referrals may help boost your customer base.
Make Client Relations a Two-Sided Affair
Actively soliciting customer feedback – whether in person, by mail or email, over the phone, or through online surveys - is essential for discovering what clients like and don’t like about your:
- products and services,
- purchasing process,
- returns policy, and
- help or customer service encounters
Be sure you use this valuable data to not only respond to queries and concerns, but to implement specific and positive changes within your business practices.
Customer relationship management (CRM) strategies and software are particularly helpful for analyzing client interactions throughout the buying cycle - especially if your intention is to retain customers, improve your relationships with them, and drive the growth of your sales.
Communicate Like a Human Being
Your customers want to know you’re every bit as human as they are, so honesty really is the best policy for handling client complaints. If an appointment or order gets delayed or goes missing, avoid the temptation to blame circumstances beyond your company’s control, explain what really happened, and offer a sincere apology along with a consolatory gesture.
You could, for example, reduce the price of your customer’s current order, or give them a discount on their next purchase or service. Either way, your goal should be to make your client feel they’re better off than they were when the process began.
You should also consider it standard practice to keep customers in the loop regarding your business activities. Communicate any plans to change, add, or remove products or services from your line-up well in advance, and update your clients on company news.
Whether tooting your own horn about a recent accomplishment, or owning up to a mistake, transparency reminds the buying public that your business is run by actual people.
Go Out of Your Way to Win Customer Trust
Going the extra mile whenever possible and practical is an especially effective way to win customers for life. But making more effort than is normally required or expected shouldn't be an occasional thing. To master the art of client trust, you need to adopt a service approach that’s built on one interaction at a time.
Examples of how some real-life businesses go above and beyond include:
- offering courtesy sunglasses to restaurant outdoor patio guests,
- accommodating desperate appointment requests outside regular hours, and
- keeping emergency umbrellas on hand for customer use
Nothing makes a client feel appreciated like the simple act of being handled with care. Remember – like you, your customers have a life outside your business environment. Treating them the same way you’d like to be treated will create a strong and lasting impression.
Practice the Personal Touch
Your bottom line literally wouldn’t exist without your customers, so show them the respect they deserve. The personal touch has become especially important in today’s digital world - and a simple “please” and “thank you” can go a long way toward reassuring clients that both they and their business are valued.
Never underestimate the power of beginnings and endings when it comes to the pursuit of customer loyalty. First impressions are just as important as what your clients take away from each and every interaction with your business. So no matter how you choose to flaunt your company's personal touch, make sure it includes genuine, timely, and authentic customer relations.