When we discuss growing our businesses, what we’re really talking about is drawing new customers through our doors, and keeping them happy with great products and sincere customer service.
Customer loyalty is both the bedrock and the path to success for your business, whether it’s product or service based.
First, she outlines why it is important to focus on customer loyalty:
- Good customer service is simply good business, and bad service hurts your bottom line more than you will ever know. Seventy percent of shoppers will spend money again with a brand that provides them with great service. The negative statistic, however, is that for every customer that complains to you, 26 walk away from your business without saying a word and don’t return.
- Web and social marketing aside, word of mouth is still the best and least expensive way to grow your business, but your customers need a reason to say good things about you to friends and family.
- Keeping an existing customer is less expensive than drawing a new one to your business, but you need to put programs and practices in place deliberately to make sure customers stay.
As Antosz notes, it is tempting to focus on product marketing, staffing, cashflow and all the mechanics required to keep your doors open. But without customers to walk through those doors and purchase your products, you have no business. Effective customer care is really what protects and grows your business.
Keeping Your Customers Happy
I encourage you to read the article in full, because Antosz illustrates her points so well, but here is a summary of the seven simple ways you can retain customers and keep them happy.
- It’s the little things. Find small, tangible ways to make your customers feel special. Free samples with their purchases, quirky packaging or a treat. The article talks about the tiny plastic dinosaurs that Photojojo sends out with their orders—a small touch that has caught on big with their customers.
- Say thank you! When customers give you their business and loyalty, find a way to express your appreciation, whether it’s a thank-you sticker on their wrapped purchase or a shout out on Twitter when they follow you.
- Respond to reviews. Whether a review is good or bad, responding to it personally shows that you care enough to engage with your customers.
- Share your values. Customers prefer to connect with a real person over a corporate persona. Ethical sourcing, personal service, community involvement. Whatever your company stands for, be sure you communicate that to your customers on your website, through your packaging, and by the events that you support.
- Keep communication lines open. Make yourself available to customers as much as you can, and give them ways to reach you! Set up dialog with your audience through social channels like Facebook and Twitter, send out regular newsletters, and let customers reach you by phone or text.
- Build employee loyalty. Your employees are the face of your company. If they believe in your brand and love working for you, it will show in the way they care for your customers. As Antosz notes: Happy employees = happy customers.
- Get personal! Treat your best customers like friends. Use your account database to wish them a happy birthday, celebrate their membership anniversary, or offer a discount on a product you know they love. In short, remind them that you know and appreciate their business.
As business owners, we must remind ourselves that business is always about people not products. The products and services we sell are merely commodities designed to meet the needs of people, and we so often put the proverbial cart before the horse.
Like Antosz, I am a fan of the small plastic dinosaurs that arrive in my Photojojo shipments. They make me feel I’m not just a number in their customer database, and I love the surprise!