4 Tips for Creating a Customer for Life
Do you work to retain your current customers, or are you mostly focused on finding new ones?
Savvy business owners try to build relationships with everyone who visits their store or website. That’s because they understand the cost of new customer acquisition is as much as 5 to 10 times higher than the expense of retaining a current customer and that repeat customers spend, on average, 67 percent more than new ones.
Here are four tips for creating and maintaining a loyal customer base:
1. Provide exemplary service. Certain basic responsibilities come with running a business, such as ensuring that a customer’s order is correct and delivered intact and on time. But why simply meet customer expectations when you can exceed them? One way to do this is by following up. After a purchase has been made, email the customer to find out whether she’s satisfied with the experience. Ask if any problem has occurred; if so, take care of it immediately. Then follow up again, apologizing for the situation and making sure it has been fully resolved.
2. Hire staffers who are committed to customer satisfaction. An attentive, dedicated employee can convert a “maybe” customer into one who continues to come back. When you list the requirements for any open job position, include “deliver outstanding service to every customer.” Ask questions during interviews such as, "What do you do that makes you a good people person at work?" Train all new hires on specific ways to provide customers with helpful information and to handle complaints politely and efficiently.
3. Show your customers how much you appreciate them. Customers are often pleasantly surprised when a business thanks them for their support. Every now and then, send your repeat customers a message of appreciation with no strings attached. You may be tempted to include some type of promotional offer, but save that for another time; people are wary of insincere gestures of appreciation. A short, personalized message can be very effective and memorable.
4. Anticipate what your customers want. Communicate with your repeat customers through newsletters, surveys, and social media. Learn as much as you can about challenges they face — and be prepared to offer solutions. Based on your knowledge of what they've purchased from you, you can anticipate what products or services may improve a customer's life in the future. If you can alert a client to something he may need in a few months’ time, you’ll be providing a valuable service and encouraging future sales.
A big part of being a successful entrepreneur is not only understanding what your customers need, but also thinking like them, too. Demonstrating this builds trust and loyalty, two of the most precious assets any business can have.
Lee Polevoi is an award-winning business writer specializing in the challenges and opportunities facing small business. He is former Senior Writer at Vistage International, a global membership organization of CEOs.