Create long term relationships with customers...
New customers are a hot commodity for business owners. Though important, attracting new customers should not be your company's only goal. Repeat customers are an important, but often overlooked piece of the puzzle. Not only do existing customers have a proven track record of spending money at your business, it is more cost effective to keep existing customers than it is to find new ones. Once you're business has decided that retaining your existing customers is a priority, it is important to come up with a simple yet effective plan for making that happen.
There are some very simple things you can do that will keep your customers coming back again and again. Check out the following tips for improving your customer retention.
- Be attentive - Listen to your customers. When they are making a complaint, really try to understand the problem, and let them know you're going to work to fix it, and then follow through. When a customer is praising your business, take that acclaim and try to do more. Let your customers tell you what they want from your business, and give it to them.
- Give them answers - What is more frustrating than getting the run around from a customer service representative? Make sure your staff knows that answering customer's questions is a high priority. None of your employees will have all the answers, but that doesn't mean they should blow off a customer's inquiry. When faced with a question they can't answer, teach employees the proper lines of communication to get those dilemmas solved. Train employees to get customers' contact information, and follow up with them when a question can't be answered on the spot.
- Make them comfortable - Why would anyone come back to a business they didn't feel comfortable at? A customer's comfort level can be altered by many things. Physical comfort is just one of them. Make sure your stores are clean and organized. Do not pressure or belittle customers. Be meticulous in answering their questions and alleviating their concerns.
- Focus on convenience - When your business is more convenient than your competition, you will win back customers. Are your hours of operation convenient for those with full time jobs? Are you open on weekends? Do customers have the opportunity to browse your products online or by catalog? Is your location easy to find, does it offer convenient parking options? By making your business the convenient one, you will win back customers.
- Create connections - Get to know your customers, and let them get to know your brand. Share your store's history or your favorite item on the menu. Utilize online opportunities like Facebook and LinkedIn to stay connected with your customers. Get on Twitter to interact with customers in 140 characters or less! While keeping track of customers can be hard, it is a worthwhile endeavor.
- Communicate - Utilize different methods of communication to keep your brand on your customer's mind. Send out monthly newsletters either online or by mail. Send out postcards or emails reminding customers of events and sales. Keep your Website updated and post any important information there. Make sure that you keep customers up to date on what's going on in your store.
- Manage your staff - You can't be everywhere all the time, so you trust your staff to handle your customer interactions and much of the day to day operation of your business. Most companies offer initial training when new employees start, but it is important to keep educating your staff as time goes on. Lessons are forgotten and priorities change for employees. Ongoing training, regular evaluations and a hands on approach to management can help you create a strong workforce ready to engage and retain your customers.
- Scrutinize the Competition - You can learn from your competitors and others in your industry. Take a look at what is working for them, and personalize that technique for your own brand. Is the restaurant down the block offering take out services? You can too! Is the other hotel implementing a rewards program? Why don't you? When the gas station down the street decides to close 2 hours early, you can capitalize on that and remain open longer. You can learn from others in your industry and use those lessons to make your business better.
- Reward Existing Customers - Satisfied customers are an amazing source of advertising. Ask your customers to get on the review sites, or leave comments on your Facebook fan page. Offer them discounts when they send in new customers, or when they spend a certain amount with your company. Create a loyalty rewards program with ongoing benefits. Offering existing customers rewards is an excellent way to keep them coming back, and spreading the good news about your business.
- Commit to your Community - Whether you are a small town store or a national company, you can create customer loyalty and appreciation by investing in the communities you're located in. Sponsor a little league team or donate to a good cause. Organize a community event or put together a team for a local race or walk. There are plenty of things going on in your community, take part. You will be demonstrating your good will while you're getting your name out there in a positive light.
Keep your customers coming back, and you will be rewarded. New customers are important, but you simply cannot overlook your existing clientele. Customer retention should be a fundamental aspect of a business plan. What are you doing to keep your existing customers coming back again and again?
Labels: Business Tips