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How to Attract – And Keep – Your Customers

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Customer retention is vital for any small business or start-up. Without it – your business will ultimately fail to prosper. With it – your potential for success is infinite. According to Harvard Business School, companies that increase customer retention rate by 5 percent on average increase their profits by 25 to 95 percent.

There are many strategies to maximize profits by keeping your customers happy and coming back for more. Here are five easy ways you can become more successful at customer retention:

1. Frequent Communication. Communication with customers is vital for any small business. The best way for customers to ignore you is for you to lose contact with them. Setting up an emailing list to advertise new sales, promote ad campaigns, or update your clientele on the relevant day-to-day goings of your company is crucial to keeping your services in the back of their minds.

Another effective strategy for communicating with your customers is to utilize relevant social media platforms to promote your services. Although recent research has shown that a majority of people use email more than other social media accounts, hundreds of millions of people use Facebook and Twitter every day. It wouldn’t hurt to channel some of your advertising and communication efforts into online platforms.

2. Loyalty Programs. Loyalty programs work for a reason. Everybody loves strong sales numbers, and offering discounts to customers who sign up for email lists or club cards can divert your clients away from your competitors and back to your business.

Creating a VIP program is another customer loyalty strategy that has proven to be very effective for certain business models. Psychological studies have shown people are naturally attracted to businesses who stroke their ego by making them feel important. By creating a VIP program, you can successfully create and maintain public interest in your business. Similarly, personal touches such as thank you cards or small gifts to your clients are a good way to show your appreciation to your customers and strengthen their devotion to your brand.

3. Easy Access. Making your product easily available is probably the most important way to increase sales. For that reason, e-commerce is your best tool and ally. With the Internet, traditional brick-and-mortar stores have experienced a decline in sales. The reality is that customers are moving online to buy products because it is more convenient for them, even if it may take a few extra days to receive the products they purchase.

But make no mistake: although e-commerce is an important supplement for growing your company, your small business should not necessarily rely only upon online sales – brick-and-mortar stores serve as a cornerstone for success in any market.

4. Extraordinary Customer Service. Top-notch customer service is crucial for the growth of any small business or start-up. Nobody likes being ignored when walking into a store or dealing with employees who are ineffectual at solving customer’s problems. Let’s take a look at a giant customer success story: Apple. Besides selling an extraordinary product, their customer service model and offerings are what has made them stand out from their competitors. Their Genius Bar is used to provide easy, personal access to customer support.

Long-term customer retention is achieved by an enjoyable customer experience, reliability, and deft handling of customer complaints and problems. Easy troubleshooting, no matter what the product, is something customers love. If your business fails to deliver upon friendly and efficient customer solutions, you may notice a decline in your customer base.

5. Questionnaires and Surveys. No matter how little you believe customers will respond to survey questions, gauging feedback is essential to the growth of your small business. Surveys can be an extremely good investment because they are cheap, take little effort to produce, and pay out huge dividends in the long run. How will you know what you’re doing well or need improvement upon if no one tells you? Yes, evaluating your profit margin is effective at determining how people respond to your business, but questionnaires are a great way to find out specifically what you can improve or what you can keep doing right for customers who already demonstrate loyalty to your brand.

Pro tip: Make sure to keep your survey short. Studies have shown that using a shorter questionnaire can increase response rates. If you choose to send a follow-up survey, make it as short as possible (a simple ‘yes or no’ question is the best way to go) without compromising the amount of data collection you need to figure out how to keep your customers.

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