No small business can survive without the patronage of regular customers. So, if your business is experiencing problems with customer retention, you’d be wise to tackle this issue posthaste. Although securing a steady customer base while growing your business may present a number of challenges, it’s well within the abilities of any business owner who’s willing to learn. So, if long-term stability is what you’re after, put the following tips to good use.
Make Yourself Accessible to Customers
It’s easy to understand the temptation to place emails, phone calls and text messages from customers on the backburner. After all, managing a small business requires a tremendous amount of work, and you’re a busy person. However, by failing to make yourself accessible to patrons, you’re essentially putting forth the message that neither they nor their input are valued by your business.
To get on top of this, make a point of responding to every customer communique within 24 hours, if not sooner. In the age of instant gratification, no one enjoys being kept waiting, and if customers come to believe that their input is worthless, they’re likely to take their patronage elsewhere.
If you lack the personal bandwidth to take point on customer relations, consider enlisting the services of a dedicated customer care representative. Per the title, this person will be responsible for following up with patrons, keeping them informed and addressing a wide variety of grievances. Depending on the size of your business and how many customers you serve, it may be in your best interest to take on multiple customer care representatives. Furthermore, reliable small business CRM software can help these individuals keep track of customer requests and contact info.
Addressing Customer Grievances in Earnest
No customer who walks through your door is liable to appreciate having their grievances regarded as unimportant or ignored entirely. Unsurprisingly, businesses that refuse to take responsibility for their mistakes have considerable trouble fostering customer loyalty. After all, why should people reward a business that won’t own up to its shortcomings with their patronage? So, if you instinctively go on the defensive whenever a customer presents you with a grievance or simply ignore such communiques altogether, you shouldn’t be surprised to see a noticeable decline in repeat business.
On the flipside, taking responsible for your business’s mistakes and doing everything in your power to make things right can endear you to customers and turn their annoyance into understanding. Addressing customer grievances in earnest and admitting to mistakes on the part of your business will help distinguish you from businesses that are less obliging to the needs of their patrons. This approach to addressing grievances will make many people more apt to reward you with repeat business. In the eyes of countless consumers, mistakes made by their favorite businesses are perfectly acceptable – provided, of course, those businesses take proper responsibility for them.
Reward Patrons for Their Loyalty
One of the best ways to keep customers coming back is making them feel appreciated. Fortunately, this task can be approached on multiple fronts. For starters, make a point of being as courteous and personable as possible when interacting with customers in-person, via telephone or through email. During these interactions, remain mindful of your word choices and general tone and never pass up an opportunity to let your patrons know just how much their support is valued.
You can also provide regular patrons with tangible rewards by implementing customer loyalty programs. For example, customers who join your email list or provide you with phone numbers could become eligible to receive special offers and discounts. Additionally, restaurants, coffee shops and other businesses that sell food can benefit from providing patrons with punch cards that culminate in a free reward once a certain number of punches have been made.
You’d be hard-pressed to find a small business that isn’t dependent upon the patronage of repeat customers. The more loyal regulars you’re able to attract, the better positioned you’ll be for long-term profitability. However, in spite of this fact, a shocking number of small businesses have failed to regard good customer service with due importance. If you count your business among them, it’s imperative that you set out to change things posthaste. Small business owners looking to secure their customer bases can benefit from the advice outlined above.