Small business ownership is an exciting yet challenging venture.
One of the biggest challenges for small businesses is building a customer base. Once your business has a sea of customers, it is essential to hold on to them. According to Forrester Research, it costs five times more to find a new customer than to retain a current one.
Customers hold more power today than ever before—the power of choice. With so many available options, it is easy for your valued customers to change to your competitor's product or service. Research from Bain & Company found that "a customer is four times more likely to defect to a competitor if the problem is service-related than price or product related."
However, service is not the only variable. If your business targets Millennials, 60 percent will regularly change what brands they use in order to save money.
Here are six ways to retain your hard-earned customers.
1. Keep You Quality of Service High
Make sure your employees are all on the same page when it comes to how customers are treated. Each and every point of contact with customers should be of high quality—be thorough, answer questions and listen. Communication makes everything easier. If you want loyal customers focus on the big picture—the entire customer experience.
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2. Make an Effort to Say Thank You
Saying thank you makes a big impact on how customers perceive the quality of your service and boosts loyalty in return. Customers want to feel like they are appreciated, so let them know that before they take their business elsewhere.
Great ways to show your customers that you are thankful for their business:
- An email thanking them for their recent purchase
- A hand-written thank you card every year around the holidays
- A monthly offer via email sharing coupons for an upcoming purchase
3. Under Promise and Over-Deliver
It is much better to operate under this mindset rather than make promises that do not become a reality. Unhappy customers share their experiences with 20 people or more, while satisfied customers tend to only tell a few people. A way to avoid negativity and naysayers is to set realistic expectations from the start.
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4. Add a Personal Touch
Think about ways you can make your customer feel special. Someone with small children may appreciate you lending a hand as they carry bags to the car. Another customer may appreciate assistance as they shop for a birthday present for his or her spouse.
Take the time to add a personal touch during interactions with customers. It shows that you care and reinforces your position as the number one choice in the minds of your customers.
5. Remember That Speed is Inferior to Quality
When it comes to customer service that brings those customers back time and again, research tells us quality takes precedent over speed. A study by the Gallup Group tells us that customers were nine times more likely to be engaged with a brand when the service they experienced was considered “courteous, willing and helpful.” Those who called their service “speedy” only made customers six times more likely to be engaged.
6. Offer Loyalty Programs
The key to creating customer loyalty programs that work is figure out why customers use them and what gets customers to continue to use them. First off, remember to integrate loyalty into the full experience. Think about the TargetREDcard—it combines loyalty, ease of us and a 5 percent discount at the point of sale. Customers want you to make things simple and enjoyable for them and make the experience pleasant time and again.
Customer retention is a vital part of your business success. Existing customers are easier to upsell—and much more profitable than a high turnover rate of customers and constantly seeking new ones.
The key to your business's success is being able to adapt and change along with your customers' needs. With each new progam you implement be sure to track whether or not it is working. There is no use of beginning a new campaign if you do not monitor the progress.