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How to Build Customer Loyalty

Keeping an existing customer is far easier than trying to bring in a new one for each sale, but ensuring your customers stay loyal to you isn’t always easy

It costs more to find new customers than it does to keep the ones you already have, so it makes sense to do what you can to maintain those who are already happy with your services or products. Building customer loyalty is a step that many companies skip, because they are so focused on bringing in new ones. It is far more expensive to market to new clients than to sell to those who have already had experience with you and know what to expect from your brand.

Start Great and End Well

The beginning and the end of any customer interaction is what they remember most, so you need to make sure that no matter what happens in the middle of the conversation, it needs to begin and end pleasantly. The best way to do this is to ensure that every customer is greeted pleasantly and with a smile. Their problems should be dealt with as swiftly and efficiently as possible and when everything is complete, double check to make sure the solution is satisfactory.

A follow up note or phone call may be appropriate in some cases and can make all the difference in how a client feels about your business.

Be Consistent

When you eat at a restaurant every week, it’s usually because you like the food. If the quality of the food is completely unpredictable, sometimes amazing, sometimes terrible, chances are you’ll start looking for a new place to eat. The same goes for any business. When you provide great service one day and terrible the next, you risk losing customers.

Strive to always offer good customer service and quality products to keep people coming back. Not only will they be happy to continue purchasing from you, they will let their friends know about the great customer service, gaining you new customers without extra marketing.

Stay in Touch

Today, we have many methods to connect with customers, but the key to building loyalty is staying in contact over the long term. This can be done in a variety of ways:

  • Email newsletters
  • Birthday or holiday cards
  • Printed newsletters
  • Social media

By maintaining regular contact, either via email or snail mail, you keep your company fresh in the customer’s mind. Each email will remind them of what you offer and that could easily result in sales. To increase the chances that they will buy again, you can include a coupon or a special sale just for prior clients.

Go the Extra Mile

Think of your favorite store or restaurant and then think about what it is that makes you really enjoy spending money there. Usually it’s the little things that matter, like when the waitress remembers your name or the store clerk helps you carry packages out to your car: these are the little details that stick in your mind and make that business more enticing to you.

The same principles apply when you have your own business. Make sure you do go the extra mile for your clients and they will not only remember it, they’ll even tell their friends and you’ll find that you gain lifelong customers this way. Look for opportunities to give a little extra to your clients, even if it’s just letting them leave their bag for a moment while they run into the shop next door.

Personalizing service will also gain you long term customers. When you notice that a client likes a particular product or has a specific interest, you can make sure that you always stock what they are going to be coming in for. If need be, set aside the product for them and call to let them know when you have a new shipment. They’ll appreciate the gesture and will keep coming back.

Show Your Appreciation

It really takes very little to let your customers know that you appreciate them. There are a number of ways you can show this.

  • Offer customer only specials
  • Give coupons or vouchers for free product or services
  • Send them samples
  • Send cards or emails for special occasions
  • Give them public recognition

These don’t have to be great big shows of appreciation; even a simple thank you note can let the client know you are happy to be working with them.

Choose Your Employees Carefully

In most cases, you won’t be directly dealing with clients. This task is left to employees, which means you not only need to ensure that you are selecting friendly people, but also giving them the motivation and training to make them great at customer service. This consists of training anyone you hire so that they are knowledgeable enough to actually help a client instead of turning them away, as well as keeping your employees happy. They will tend to treat customers the way they are being treated, so if you provide a good work environment, your clients will also be happy.

You should also have some guidelines in place. Is the customer always right or do you have limits as to how far you’ll go to please them? Let your employees know what the limits are and be sure to tell them to go the extra mile to help customers and keep them happy. This will be far easier if you’ve chosen friendly people to work for you, since they will automatically be nicer and treat customers with extra respect.

Maintaining your existing customers is far easier than finding new ones, so take advantage of the resource at your fingertips and ensure that your customers want to come back. Friendly, comprehensive service and great employees are the keys to success in this area.

Starting a Business?
Join Docstoc's 100% Free Quick-Launch Guide to Starting a Business! Curated Exclusively by the Editors of Docstoc