Customer loyalty is particularly important for small businesses. Each and every customer matters, whereas for larger corporations one customer can be lost in the crowd. Taking a proactive approach to customer loyalty encourages repeat custom, but it also goes further.
With a strong customer base you also gain a competitive edge. As small businesses are jostling with the big guns, this is a way to develop your USP.
So how can small businesses build customer loyalty?
The customer needs to feel special
In the age of the internet, it’s now easier for customers to jump between brands whenever it suits them. This is bad news for customer loyalty. Therefore you need to work hard on keeping them feeling special and unique.
At the core of this is the customer experience and the nature of your customer service. Whereas a big business inevitably has set protocols and procedures that allow little room for individuality, you can escape this and offer more.
For example, if you’re a local business with local customers, emphasise this. Get to know your customers individually from their names to their purchase habits. Always demonstrate that you are listening and that you value their custom.
Rewards for customer loyalty
Think what you can offer that sets your customer’s experience above that of your competitors. Examples include free gifts or loyalty card systems. Remember, people love a freebie. Use rewards right and you can use it as a means to building customer loyalty.
Involve your customers as much as you can
The defining part of services small businesses offer is the individualised service you can offer. You can more easily listen to the individual voice of one customer than a bigger company. If you combine this with making your customers feel they have input power, you’re on to a winner.
What this approach does is demonstrate that you actually care about putting your customers first. Again, this is critical if you’re running a small local business.
For example, if you run a café hold a fundraising event for a local charity that people can get involved in. Extend this approach to actively seeking your customer’s opinion, from suggestion notes to feedback on work done. Use your social media accounts to start discussions.
Never take customer loyalty for granted
Don’t rest on your laurels and never take customer loyalty for granted. Even the seemingly most loyal customer can become fickle.
Especially as your business grows and develops, continue to put the customer experience at the heart of everything you do. Ensure reliability and consistency. Continue to communicate and value them as much as you did the first time you did business with them.
Customer loyalty is a small business’s ticket to success
If you can master customer loyalty, and never let it fall off your radar, then you have a powerful weapon in your arsenal. Big business simply can’t compete with a small business that has a refined customer strategy and truly listens to the individuals in their community.
What strategies have you found to keep your customers loyal? Please share any thoughts or comments below.