Customer retention is key to maintaining a healthy, profitable business. It’s more costly and time consuming to try and win over new customers than it is to nurture relationships with existing ones. Establishing a level of confidence and trust makes for a satisfied customer; one who is less price-sensitive and less likely be swayed by the competition. Building a loyal customer base will also increase word-of-mouth referrals, saving you the cost of advertising to bring in new markets. With fierce competition, variety of choice, and constantly changing marketing trends, it’s more important than ever to make looking after your customers a top priority.
Here are some tips to building and maintaining customer loyalty:
1. Go the extra mile
Providing unforgettable customer service is the foundation of building customer loyalty. Get to know your customers and find out what they want. Create a customer service strategy that ensures consistency in your products and services to help build customer confidence in knowing what they can expect. Provide positive, personal experiences that recognize customers and make them feel appreciated. Integrate your customer service strategy into the very culture of your business.
Establish a communication strategy that outlines how your business collects and respects customer data, along with highlighting the best methods and tactics for reaching your customers. Opening channels of communication leads to building stronger relationships. Market additional products and services that might be of interest. Offer loyalty awards or discounts that reward returning customers. Not all communication should be advertising. Send holiday greeting cards, or invite customers to sign up for your email or join your social media outlets. Provide relevant sources of information, free resources or webinars, and keep content fresh.
3. Ask for feedback and handle complaints
Customer complaints give you an opportunity to resolve issues and improve your services. Surveys, satisfaction questionnaires and follow-up calls are great ways to find out how customers experience your business and to help you understand what they think and feel. Follow-up and resolve issues promptly, so customers aren’t left with negative experience.
4. Educate and build employee loyalty
Your employees are the face of your company. They often leave lasting impression on your customers and greatly impact customer service. Employees that feel good about their jobs will pass on that loyalty to customers. Offer your employees relevant training sessions and professional development opportunities to foster a positive, rewarding work environment. Make sure all your staff are well trained and knowledgeable about your products and services, and educate them on how to interact with customers to ensure consistency. Create channels for open dialogue so employees are comfortable in seeking help when in doubt.
5. Keep your promises
The reliability of your products and service can have a direct impact on your business reputation. Ensure promised deadlines are met, honour commitments, and be considerate of your customers’ time and money. Let your customers know immediately if issues arise and offer compensation if necessary.
A thriving business tends to rely on a model that achieves approximately 80% of its business from returning customers and 20% new customers. With its profit saving, time saving and money saving advantages, building a loyal customer base puts businesses on the path of success.
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