The key to a successful business is a steady customer base. After all, successful businesses typically see 80 percent of their business come from 20 percent of their customers. Too many businesses neglect this loyal customer base in pursuit of new customers. However, since the cost to attract new customers is significantly more than to maintain your relationship with existing ones, your efforts toward building customer loyalty will certainly payoff.
Here are ten ways to build customer loyalty:
1. Communicate. Whether it is an email newsletter, monthly flier, a reminder card for a tune up, or a holiday greeting card, reach out to your steady customers.
2. Customer Service. Go the extra distance and meet customer needs. Train the staff to do the same. Customers remember being treated well.
3. Employee Loyalty. Loyalty works from the top down. If you are loyal to your employees, they will feel positively about their jobs and pass that loyalty along to your customers.
4. Employee Training. Train employees in the manner that you want them to interact with customers. Empower employees to make decisions that benefit the customer.
5. Customer Incentives. Give customers a reason to return to your business. For instance, because children outgrow shoes quickly, the owner of a children’s shoe store might offer a card that makes the tenth pair of shoes half price. Likewise, a dentist may give a free cleaning to anyone who has seen him regularly for five years.
6. Product Awareness. Know what your steady patrons purchase and keep these items in stock. Add other products and/or services that accompany or compliment the products that your regular customers buy regularly. And make sure that your staff understands everything they can about your products.
7. Reliability. If you say a purchase will arrive on Wednesday, deliver it on Wednesday. Be reliable. If something goes wrong, let customers know immediately and compensate them for their inconvenience.
8. Be Flexible. Try to solve customer problems or complaints to the best of your ability. Excuses — such as "That's our policy" — will lose more customers then setting the store on fire.
9. People over Technology. The harder it is for a customer to speak to a human being when he or she has a problem, the less likely it is that you will see that customer again.
10. Know Their Names. Remember the theme song to the television show Cheers? Get to know the names of regular customers or at least recognize their faces.
Source: "Ten Tips to Build Customer Loyalty" AllBusiness.com. http://www.allbusiness.com/sales/customer-service/1961-1.html