Are your customers keen to come back?
Category: Sales and Marketing | 07 March, 2013 13:05
It's a well-established fact that it is much easier to keep current customers and clients rather than going to the effort of finding more.
Advertising and marketing costs are often too high for small business just starting out to cope with and they offer no guarantee that they will work and provide a return on your investment. With such a competitive market out there at the moment it is important to retain customers and achieve return business from those that opt to use your services.
While this does not mean you should focus completely on maintaining your relationship with your consumer base - eventually you'll run out of clients - it does mean you need to make sure their experience using your UK SME is as good as it can be and that customers will continue to come back to you.
It may seem like a daunting task at first, but where there's a will there's a way and there are a few means of going about keeping the customers you've worked so hard to bring on board.
Build consumer loyalty to the brand
Every business should be doing this, but when it comes to small business marketing, it is even more important as you need to make sure that people continually come back to your firm, whether it be in store or online.
Obviously, the first step to building loyalty towards your brand is giving people a great experience when buying goods or services from you. This should be something you are always doing, but making a special effort and going the extra mile will really make a difference when it comes to a customer's opinion of your SME. Monitoring your social media presence is great for boosting the experience of consumers.
Everyone makes mistakes and during your time leading a small business in the UK you'll make some, and so will your staff. Nowadays, it's likely that you'll hear about any bad service you give customers through the medium of Twitter or Facebook.
Unfortunately for you it means everyone can see it, but don't worry about it - these posts provide a great opportunity to rise like a consumer-friendly phoenix from the flames of bad customer service. Apologising directly to someone who has not been satisfied with your service is a great start. If you follow it up by resolving the issue then you may well just hit the jackpot, as others will see what you have done to rectify the problem and will be safe in the knowledge that you would do the same for them if the situation arose again.
Aside from this there are a host of clever hints and tips to keep people coming back to use your service for their needs. One is offering a discount to returning customers. Everyone loves a cheaper deal, and when it comes from a company you have already used it feels like they have your best interests at heart.
Coming up with a discount strategy, whether it be off the price of goods and services, or simply offering free delivery for returning customers, will make sure people continue coming back to you.
Everyone also enjoys being thanked for their good deeds. Consumers may not realise it, but the fact they have bought from you is a good deed, so tell them so. Send a thank you email, card, voucher or another token of appreciation after five or ten orders, which will remind your customers how important they are to you and also give your business a friendly image.
Communication is absolutely key
A relationship between a business and its customers is like any other: there needs to be frequent and clear communication from each party. Staying in touch with your clients and consumer base is absolutely imperative. This can take a number of forms, with social media, email newsletters and special events, and it's easy to do when things are going well and it's all nicey nicey.
Staying in touch when something has gone wrong is a lot harder, but it is arguably even more important. The natural reaction to a problem is to hope it blows over, but if you want to retain your customers you need to step up and deal with it. Honesty is something highly valued by consumers and setting out the reasons for a problem and a plan to tackle it is key.
Assuring them it won't happen again is imperative, as the majority of reasonable people will understand and see your business as a more approachable brand, a fact which should remain in their thoughts the next time it comes to buying goods or services.
Don't underestimate the human touch
Although your customers know they are dealing with a business, it is important that they also know there is a human element to the business. Often it's the human touch that makes consumers decide to use an SME, rather than a faceless, multi-national company.
Taking some time to think how you want to present your brand and how you want customers to think of you is important and this should form part of your public persona. This should be something that you and members of staff can refer to when dealing with a customer. There is little point having a public image, but then when someone contacts you giving off a different feel altogether. This will confuse and irritate customers and turn many of them away from you.
Don't be afraid to try something new
If your approach to marketing and retaining customers is working, it can be all too easy to keep things plodding along in the same fashion. However, this will only lead to people becoming bored with what your brand brings to the table and you can't really expect people to keep coming back if everything stays the same.
Freshening your business up with new products, deals, discounts and online content will help keep customers enthusiastic and constantly returning for the latest new item or interesting and informative blog post.
Image Credit: iStockphoto