Small Business Loyal Customers: Some Thoughts
Some say that loyalty is a dying attribute. Arguably consumers are looking for the better deal than stay loyal to one company. However, loyal customers to your small business are very important and building up that loyalty is an important process: encouraging first-time customers to return and building on that customer base has the potential for your business to shine.
The real question is how to proceed in finding that loyalty towards smaller businesses? Below are some thoughts on how to see loyalty develop and see those important key customers becoming regular customers.
How Special do You Make Your Customers Feel?
It may sound a little unsophisticated but loyalty is built when you make your customers feel special. Maybe a better way of putting this is what kind of experience do the customers have of the service you provide from the word ‘go’; that first telephone call, email or when they walk in through the door is key. First impressions count.
As a small business it’s likely that the ‘local business tag’ will have the local customers, so how are you getting to know your neighbours? How much effort are you putting into developing relationships, remembering names, their personalities and even remembering what they’re buying? All of these things show that you’re actively interested in them and you value their continued custom.
Is there a way that you reward your customers by showing that you appreciate their loyalty? Giving free gifts to regular customers, or if they spend a certain amount with you goes a long way. If it’s appropriate, loyalty cards with particular products that get stamped towards money off other items are an instant draw. The real question is: what value do you offer them to return to you?
Do your customers feel like they are involved in your company? If the customer feels that you put them first in your dealings with them and aren’t just there to take their money, your customers will stay loyal. There are several ways you can make your customers feel like they are part of what’s going on: social media has broken a lot of ground with customer connectivity. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have easy ways for communication to be instantaneous between business and customer like never before. Connectivity online is one thing but nothing beats the face-t0-face back and forth to create a relationship.
If it’s appropriate, you can hold open days and coffee mornings, and of course business networking meetings like the ones Newton Abbot Chamber of Commerce host every month. Asking people what they think while sounding like a dangerous activity, is an excellent way to show that you genuinely care about your customers. Use the tools you’ve got in front of you through social media or email to take polls to improve your service. In this case, it’s all about transparency; act on good and reasonable things your customers are saying. The real question is: why should your customers trust you?
Making the customer experience better is key in building loyalty from your customers. Obvious things like having the stock ready, being reliable in the services you provide, meeting deadlines and deliveries on time while being consistent with producing quality work and products. Show your potential loyalists that you are an expert in your field in the industry giving them a reason that they should always come to you for what they need. This also produces a good reputation because if they are being loyal, it’s likely they will tell others.
Know fully what you’re offering, which sounds patronising but if you instil confidence then people will trust you and keep coming back. If your attitude is just to get as much money as you can from your customers you won’t see the loyalty you want because your attitude will see the results of what you’re sowing. You need to value and stay loyal yourself to your customers, which will result in them finding value in you. Showing them that you’re happy to help them sometimes in ways that won’t just benefit you. The real question is: what are your customers saying about you?
To see loyal customers you need to put yourself in their shoes and think how they should feel and then meet them where they are.