A small business faces unique challenges in expanding its customer base because of limitations on the funds and personnel available to conduct a marketing campaign. Beyond that, customer retention is equally demanding from both the personnel and expense standpoints. Small business owners should be mindful of the techniques they can use when implementing an effective customer retention strategy.
Keep the Customer Satisfied
When a small business expends a significant amount of effort toward developing important marketing habits, it often overlooks the need to keep the customer satisfied. Customer satisfaction is the key to customer retention. Your staff should understand that customer satisfaction is its top priority. Develop a customer satisfaction plan with specific measures your staff can undertake for courteous and helpful treatment of clients.
Make Customers Aware That You Care
Consider techniques for letting your customers know they are important. Schedule quarterly meetings, and if the customers are businesses, meet them at their offices and get familiar with their operations and staff. Making random, unscheduled visits to their offices in addition to the quarterly meetings is another way of letting them know they are important clients. Take advantage of those visits to learn how customers are utilizing your products or services. You might discover an opportunity to introduce them to a new offering or help them make maximum use of what your company provides for their operations.
Use the Telephone
While contacting customers by email has its advantages, do not allow email to become a substitute for telephone contact. Telephone conversations are more personal, as they provide opportunities to tell jokes and exchange stories. While email can be somewhat impersonal, telephone conferences allow you to establish a better rapport with the client. People in business situations generally feel more comfortable discussing something on the phone, as opposed to putting it in writing. Candid conversation can help you identify problems that would have otherwise remained unknown without a phone call. You might also gain insight on efforts by competitors.
Focus on Building and Sustaining Solid Relationships
Develop techniques for interacting with your customers in a manner that supports building and sustaining relationships. Go beyond one-on-one meetings or conferences with your customers and cultivate company-to-company relationships. Bring a staff member along for a conference and make a point of meeting as many people as possible at your clients’ offices. When inviting a customer to an event, expand the invitation to include the customer’s associates. Convey the impression that both of your companies are working together as a team, with your staff functioning in a role to facilitate the client’s business operations.
Document Your Success at Customer Satisfaction
Consider using surveys to track customer satisfaction. In the electronic information environment, people constantly face automated requests to complete surveys. To break through the barriers most people have against participating in surveys, you may want to consider including some small reward as an incentive toward survey completion. Surveys and questionnaires can alert you to customer dissatisfaction or other problems they might experience with your products or services. Conducting a survey, which allows your clients to give you feedback, can convey your concern about the customers’ needs, making them feel appreciated.
Conduct Email Campaigns Featuring Discounts
Providing your customers with the opportunity to receive discounts is one way of attracting loyalty. When taking advantage of the discount, the client might decide to make additional purchases. Rather than using coupons, provide a code word or number the customer should include on the subject line when placing the order. Once the customer receives a number of these promotional offers, you might learn it schedules purchases to coincide with these opportunities. Being aware of customers’ purchasing trends can help you plan your marketing strategy in a way that accommodates the needs of your clients and wins their loyalty.
Invest in a Customer Relationship Management Platform
Investing in customer relationship management (CRM) software can provide your business with an essential resource in maintaining customer satisfaction. CRM software manages customer data, and facilitates interaction with customers and customer support activities. CRM automates the sales process. Using CRM software helps you manage relationships between your employees, clients, and vendors of products used by your company. More importantly, CRM platforms utilize customer information and transaction histories with predictive analytics to help you obtain a broader view of potential business opportunities.
CRM is especially useful for small businesses because it automates a variety of labor-intensive tasks, ultimately for the goal of customer satisfaction. It makes you aware of what a customer needs and the exact time when the need should arise. CRM makes all of your customer information available in one place; this includes emails, phone calls, order histories, appointments, and customer needs. One popular CRM platform for small businesses is Method CRM. This platform syncs with QuickBooks accounting software, making duplicate entries unnecessary.