Customer loyalty: 8 ways to build long-lasting relationships with your small business customers

hand-997394_640By Apple Pineda

Knowing that customers sustain a company’s life, attaining their satisfaction and catering to their needs is imperative in any small business. While tapping into new markets and acquiring new customers is essential, organizations should emphasize retaining existing ones and creating loyal customers who will ensure stable business operations. According to American IT research and advisory firm, Gartner, 20% of a company’s current customers generate 80% of the profits.

Moreover, cultivating customer loyalty creates an army of strong promoters along the way, which can outshine the best marketing efforts. Also, customer retention efforts are cheaper than acquiring new customers. Building loyalty forms a solid customer base helping the business to grow exponentially.

If you want loyalty, you have to give it. Make a list of your most important customers or clients and include them in a customer loyalty program. For your general customers or clients, demonstrate your commitment in broad terms, especially when they need you. Promise them an incentive program that will mutually benefit. For the most important customers, demonstrate your commitment and let them know how much you appreciate them.

Getting customers is manageable. But, getting their trust and loyalty is the challenge. Here are top ways to build that long-lasting relationship.

  1. Understand your customer’s goals

The products and services your business provides are only meaningful in the context of customers’ objectives. Your role is to create and execute financial or strategic objectives to address their need.

Understand and communicate your value from the perspective of the customer. Be aware of changes that may affect the customer requirements and your perceived value so you can adjust accordingly.

  1. Get hyper-personal

This is a simple but remarkably underused strategy for building loyalty. Because customers want to feel they are valued and appreciated, device a system that recognizes when return customers enter your store or repeat a transaction with your business.

You can push a message to their mobile device or email saying, “Hi Anne, welcome back! Congrats on your nth purchase!” offer a simple something when they mark, say their fifth transaction with you. You can also tie the special offer directly to their previous purchases and tastes!

  1. Meet the chef

Have you ever had the chef of a restaurant you frequent come out of the kitchen to meet you personally after a good meal? Wasn’t it cool to shake the hand that stirred the soup? How fun is it to do a warehouse tour or visit a manufacturing plant?

Give customers a chance to meet the makers of your products and services whatever your business. Let them see the genesis of your product behind the scenes.

Exclusive meet-and-greets with company executives, tours, and other interactive encounters will humanize the company and connect customers to your story and service.

  1. Devise customer loyalty programs

Customers’ loyalty varies. If you have a restaurant, for example, ome grab a coffee every day while others sit down for a full meal once a week. To reward them properly, businesses should develop tiered loyalty programs that provide rewards based upon levels of engagement. Instead of using a one size fits all system, create packages that fit the style of your customers.

  1. Keep in touch with Customers through social media

There are a number of channels that businesses can use to stay connected with their customers. While every single social network on earth would love it if every interaction on earth took to their platform, unfortunately, that’s not how people behave.

Consumers want a normal relationship uninterrupted by the requirements of a third party. The more immediate and seamless the connection between business and customer, the better.

Rather than making them the main attraction, social media should be used as a facilitator of a business’ relationship with its customers. Get the message across and focus on delivering a great experience with a product or service.

  1. Appoint genuine ambassadors

Customer referral programs allowing current customers to invite friends to the loyalty club is highly recommended. Social media can be helpful for this, but Facebook likes are not the key result.

Make your loyalists real ambassadors by giving them power. Let them send discounts and invites for unique experiences. People love to treat their friends, especially if there’s no cost to themselves.

Offer your best customers an extra benefit they can share when they bring the gang along. They’ll appreciate their increased status, and that you made them look good by giving real value to their friends.

  1. Stay consistent

The best ways to manage business expectations is to be consistent in all aspects—quality, Responsiveness, and delivery of goods and services.

Establish a routine schedule for communication with the most important customers, so you can call “just to talk” and check the pulse of the relationship.

  1. Go the extra mile

An added value to service is always appreciated. Give customers something more than expected. Do something to demonstrate your appreciation for their loyalty. It can be as simple as a greeting card, an email, or a small token to show your appreciation.

Loyalty is a relationship, and it should be nurtured as you would care for a friend. Do not take it for granted.

Every small business owner wants to have loyal customers that love their business. But, if you want loyalty, you have to give it. Commit yourself to excellence with these eight tips and your customers will reward you with their repeat business and dedication.

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Apple Pineda has served a number of clients as a content marketing specialist for 3 years. She’s a wanderlust in the making, often seeking adventures to live life to the fullest. She’s a writer for avail.at, a company that specializes in digitizing rewards programs for your employees or customers.

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