Make Customers Loyal to Your Business
When customers can easily comparison shop online with a few mouse clicks, the notion
of loyalty seems almost old fashioned. Your best customers are someone else’s most
Big companies have adopted a fancy term for addressing the problem, called “customer
retention management” or CRM. Massive amounts of time and energy are devoted to
it, including countless Web sites, conferences, software products, online applications,
magazines and books.
The core of the issue, however, comes down to something small business owners have
been good at for centuries: building customer loyalty. A loyal customer is doing
business with you, not your competition.
Small businesses that concentrate on keeping customers are more successful in the
long run. It only stands to reason. Selling to folks you already know and understand
is more efficient, more predictable and more profitable. A loyal customer base gives
you an edge.
But building loyalty is not a marketing matter, so don’t look there for help. Spend
all you want to attract new cadres of customers, but if they don’t stick around
your days could be numbered.
When a customer leaves, you should consider it unacceptable. Find out why it happened
and then work to prevent it from happening again.
To foster customer loyalty, a small business needs a strategy that keeps patrons
coming back. It starts with basics that are sometimes overlooked. Thanking customers
for their business, for example, goes a long way. But try going beyond a few spoken
words. Write some thank you notes and letters. Make them personal and sincere. Just
let them know you appreciate their business.
Creating value will help boost loyalty. Ask customers if there is anything else
you could be doing for them. Then, after they tell you, do it.
Customers are more likely to be loyal if you make it easy for them. Review each
customer “touch point” — your phones, your Web site, your store — for ease of use.
Offer incentives. You can’t buy loyalty, but you can make it easier to happen. Special
perks, discounts or freebies for loyalty work wonders.