Six Bright Ideas for Building Customer Loyalty
This is a guest blog post by Anita Brady. An industry veteran, Anita is the president of 123Print.com, a leading provider of high quality customizable items like business cards, letterhead and other materials for small businesses and solo practitioners.
Any business owner will smile when a new customer walks in the door. The smart ones smile even bigger when the old customers arrive.
Apart from a few tourism-oriented ventures, few businesses can survive without repeat business from loyal customers. It’s these clients that trust us, spreading the word to others about quality products and service.
Maintaining a high standard of excellence is the first and foremost key to running a successful business, but plenty of simple “extra credit” ideas can sweeten the deal. Whether you’re a budding entrepreneur or a veteran business owner, these ideas will guarantee that your customers keep coming back.
1. Stay in Touch
Ever noticed how any appliance or electronic device comes with a product registration? That’s because a customer’s contact info is highly prized.
You’ve already won them over. The task now is to ensure that you’re the first call when they need your product or service again. Collect emails on your website or at your cash register, and give them an incentive to sign up, like...
2. Shower Them With Gifts
Customer loyalty programs work, whether it’s a “Buy 5 get 1 free”card or simple discounts for return shoppers. If you’ve been collecting emails and phone numbers, send out a monthly newsletter or weekly text with an exclusive deal.
Just make sure it’s something great – 10 and even 20 percent off no longer cut it in the age of 50 percent off Groupon deals. People will rave about the free or half price deal you gave them, and their friends will rush to sign up as well.
3. Wine and Dine
Cocktails and finger food are universal. Whether you run a pet supply store or a web hosting company, treat your local customers to an occasional party.
It doesn’t cost much for a few appetizer trays and bottles of wine. Advertise your social hour far in advance, building buzz. People appreciate small gestures, and it creates a subconscious obligation to return the favor.
4. Take Their Advice
Whether it’s a comment box by the door or simply asking customers for ideas on improving your business, giving advice empowers people. If you take their suggestions into account, they’ll feel a sense of ownership and pride, steering more people toward your business.
5. Stay True to Yourself
Unfortunately, you simply can’t please everyone. Always keep a firm grasp on your ideals and why you started your business in the first place.
Don’t adapt just to join the crowd or keep up with a new competitor, or you’ll lose what makes you stand out and unique in the market. If you’re honest in your motivations, loyal patrons will appreciate it and remain true.
6. Say Thank You
Simply saying thank you is still the number one way to build customer loyalty. If it’s a client on the phone, a genuine, “You know, we really appreciate your doing business with us,” will work wonders for building lasting relationships.
If it’s appropriate for your business, consider occasionally sending out handwritten thank you notes. It’s a relic from the past that will impress and be remembered.
Gratitude is a cornerstone of building customer loyalty. Offer a reliable, quality product and show appreciation, and customers will continue to flock back in droves.
These are just a few ideas for creatively saying ‘thank you.’ What other methods have you used at your business to inspire customer loyalty?