Today, it is almost guaranteed that every business has competition, whether it’s from someone working out of their garage, home, or in a traditional storefront business. The Internet has made it extremely easy to find and compare businesses online, and this means it’s very important to work hard to continue to improve both your promotional methods and your customer service approaches, to gain and maintain stronger customer loyalty for your business.
While it is important to generate new customers, it is even more important to maintain strong relationships with the ones you already have, especially in today’s competitive market. In fact, it often costs much less to keep a current customer than it does to gain a new one, or, in the worst case, to try to win back a customer from a competitor. In this article, I will provide tips on how you can optimize your promotional and customer service approaches to convert both of your new and current customers, into loyal ones. Let’s get started.
First, when a new customer comes to you, politely ask them how they found out about your business and keep a list of their responses. Review this list often to identify the common channels that generate majority of new customers for you, and try to promote your business more on those channels; whether it is through word-of-mouth, websites, social media referrals, etc. Depending on your type of business, you’ll get new customers through different lead-generating channels. Knowing where your target customers usually go to find your type of business will allow you to position yourself in front of them effectively. This is a smart way to make a good impression, and without a good first impression, you may never get a chance to gain their trust. Always remember that trust plays a big part in gaining customer loyalty.
Today, many customers use the Internet to find and learn about business providers before making the phone call or driving to the store. This is reasonable enough for you to consider establishing a professional website to let potential customers learn about your business 24-7, at their convenience.
Second, always make very clear to your customers what you provide, and what it will do for them. Work hard to try to avoid negative comments about your business or brand. As you know, bad words often travel farther and faster than good ones. And since social media (Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, etc.) are THE customers’ social spaces, bad comments and stories will spread fast and are very hard for you to resolve. Being clear, honest, and sincere are the best ways to avoid having your reputation harmed, so that you can continue to work to gain your customers’ trust.
Third, try to exceed your customers’ expectations, repeatedly. In today’s competitive market, meeting your customer’s expectations may no longer be enough. In fact, it might create opportunities for competitors to take away your customers. So go the extra mile to delight your customers. It will help build customer loyalty while costing you much less than trying to win back customers you’ve lost to competitors.
Fourth, while your customers are delighted, if possible, ask them to write up a couple paragraphs of feedback on your customer service. The process of writing you feedback allows customers to reflect on the good experience they had with you, which naturally makes your service more memorable. Better yet, you can post customers’ testimonials on your website to help you continue to build a good reputation for your business over time.
Fifth, keep a close pulse on your competitor’s promotions and provide offers that would interest your current customers to visit your business, or buy your products and services. If you can’t compete directly with a competitor on a particular promotion or deal, put together a different offer or bundle that would attract your customers. The offer doesn’t have to be so good that you take a loss, but it should help differentiate you and keep the attention of your current customers on you. Reminding customers of your new business offers will also help maintain their loyalty to your brand.
Sixth, a few weeks before the New Year approaches, send out a greeting/thank you letter to each of your current customers. Hand-written letters are often the most effective and personal. While sending out a thank you letter may not be feasible for all businesses, it is an important step for many. This task may be a time consuming, but it’s worth it to remind your current customers how much you appreciate the fact that they chose you, and your business. This is one of the keys to customer relationship management which will help you convert your current customers into loyal ones.
The market today is much more competitive and businesses that have yet optimize their promotion and customer services approaches to gain and retain customer loyalty will soon realize that this can have a negative impact on their bottom line. Above are six important tips to help you build a strong relationship with your current customers and convert those relationships into customer loyalty.