Customer loyalty is the backbone of any small to medium-size business. Without customer loyalty, most SMBs won’t survive. Of course, large corporations rely on loyalty, but their greater reach and market share means their business can tolerate significant churn rates. They also have the systems and budget to capture loyal customers with sophisticated schemes. So, how does the average company build customer loyalty?
How Do the Big Players Say They Gain Customer Loyalty?
“One of the best ways to do that is through a loyalty program that rewards returning customers and draws new customers to the business. However, the best loyalty programs require the proper tools to gather and analyse data insights, marketing and sales tools to implement those insights and a strategy to bring it all together.”
Sounds great, but who has the resources to maintain a system like this and still run a business?
Customer Loyalty – The Real Deal
Communication is key. SMBs work hard to stay in touch with their customers through multiple channels. It’s this communication that builds productive, mutually beneficial relationships. So, keep in touch through email, Skype, Zoom and the good old telephone. And, because your customers may be locals, positively encourage face-to-face meetings whenever possible. Also, when time allows, keep an eye on your customer’s social media. But, ultimately, your most significant advantage over the big boys is to provide a more personal, dedicated and yes, friendly service.
1. Show That You Know Your Customer
Becoming knowledgeable about your client’s business shows respect. Moreover, it gives your customers confidence that you can provide appropriate services and solutions. So, at the most basic, make sure you know the key players’ names and positions within the business. Beyond that, learn about their markets, products, services, staff, and business structure. This will lead to knowing their requirements and needs and will build customer loyalty.
2. Collect and Take Advantage of Customer Feedback
In business, every bit of feedback, good or bad, is business gold. In fact, be grateful for negative feedback because it allows you to improve. After all, it’s far better that you know when things aren’t working while there’s still time to change them. So, value all feedback. Listen carefully and try to remove your emotional involvement. Ultimately, you don’t have to provide instant fixes, but you need to deal with the issues quickly and with minimal fuss and fix the process. On the other hand, lean towards actions that consistently generate positive feedback.
3. Show Appreciation to Gain Customer Loyalty
Customers are the reason we are in business. Sure, when you’re facing a crushing deadline and the phone’s ringing off the hook, it’s easy to forget exactly who the customers are. Moreover, sometimes it seems they’re just getting in the way of running the business! So, although the customer is not always right, they always deserve courtesy and respect. With this in mind, show ownership and accountability for your customer’s problems, but still manage their expectations. For long-term clients, consider offering discounts and rewards.
4. Stay Relevant to the customer
Staying relevant to your customers means evolving your business in line with theirs. By becoming more customer-centric, you will build customer loyalty. Look for ways to improve your processes to provide better value. Moreover, being dynamic means you’re able to utilise emerging technologies. Of course, some tech comes and goes, so as trends change, don’t cling to failed processes; move on. Staying relevant to build customer loyalty also means networking. So, talk to people, follow and engage with appropriate social channels, and participate in relevant events.
Above all, try to be a life-long learner, be humble. After all, you can’t know everything. Also, be as honest as possible, acknowledge your limitations and don’t promise things you can’t deliver.