Loyalty, Repeat Customers: The Key to a Successful Business

As a business owner one of the most costly requirments you will have in terms of time, labor, and money will be the marketing of your business. When you begin a business a tremendous amout of resources is spent on “getting the word out” and building your customer base. Unless you have unlimited capital you will not be able to maintain the same amount of marketing expenditures as you did during those first crucial months. While all business must continue to advertise to draw in new business equal amounts of time on customer retention. Without a loyal customer base you will drawn into a expensive process of coming up with more and more gimmicks to draw in a dwindling amount of new customers until you have exhausted your resources. That is one the major reason over half of all businesses fail within the first year.That is why it becomes so important to build loyalty among your customers. It is much less expensive to keep an existing customer than it is to generate a new customer. A loyal customer base can make or break you. Do whatever you can to build loyalty with your customers.

Start by offering service that is both professional and just as importantly personal. One advantage a small business owner has over a larger one is that they can get to know the wants and needs of their clientel. Learn the names of your customers and keep track of their purchases. Nothing makes people feel better than feeling important and addressing them by name builds an instant bond that makes them feel valuable. Keeping track of their purchases will allow you to heighten this sense of value. You can email them when you have new items that match their preferences. You can offer them gift coupons that are unique to their wants. Be sure to thank your customers for each purchase at the minimum verbally. Sending them an email thanking them for their purchase. Keep thank you cards on hand to slip inside their bag. Give a free item to customers who make large purchases or come in frequently. Why do all this? Because customer service not the lowest price is still the number one reason people do business with any company.

The number two reason people will give you their business is convience. Not just how convient your business location is but how convient it is to do business with you. You need to think like a customer. Take a good look at your business and ask yourself, would I shop here? There are a few steps you can take to ensure your customers a pleasant experience. Make sure that there is always someone available to assist your customers with your products and with making their purchase. Greet your customers when they enter and keep an eye out for an opportunity to assist them or offer a sale. Often times customers will simply walk out rather than approach someone for help. Even worse is having a customer who has already selected items to purchase get impatient and leave because no one was at the register to ring them up or because the lines at the register were to long because of inadequate staffing. An equally important step to take is to make it as easy as possible for customers to resolve any problems they have. Take responsibility for any issue that arises even if the customer is at fault. If you are not able to meet their request emphasize what you can do for them. Never leave your customers with the impression you cannot help them instead give them options as to what you can and will do to resolve their problem. Taking a small loss on one sale can pay for itself in repeat business if you can satisfy a difficult customer or situation.

One final thing to remember is that building great loyalty will enable you to make your customers work for you. The most effective advertising is word of mouth. People like to share how they got a good value or how they were treated and made to feel important. They will spread the word to friends and family. In todays technologically advanced society never underestimate how many people one person can reach. Consider that your customer may have a website or blog that is read by hundreds or thousands of people a year. Maybe they work for a large corporation with a large employee base. They may end up reaching more people than some of your marketing attempts and it will be free to you. its almost impossible to calculate the amount of money this could save. Remember this can work both ways. You can also spend a lot of money and time trying to regain your reputation if customers spread the word about what a poor experience they had with you. As a personal example one of the reasons I joined Associated Content was because I saw positive reports on several different websites. I would estimate 95% of the reviews and opinions were positive. Think of how difficult it would be for AC if when people researched their business 95% of the reports were negative.

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