Five Technology Tools to Help Small Businesses Retain Customers

Attracting new customers requires a considerable investment from businesses. First, there’s the cost of marketing and advertising, not to mention the time spent strategizing how to reach consumers. If those customers decide to do business with you, you must then work hard to win them over, including potentially offering coupons for return visits. It’s not enough that you’ve gotten them to come through the door or hire you, you need to retain customers for future sales.

“Most customers are solving the wrong problem when it comes to loyalty,” Matthew Selbie, President of Opiniator, says. Selbie points out as many as 36 percent of customers never come back, with restaurants having the highest defection rate.

It’s no surprise many small businesses are learning the value of customer retention. Loyal customers can provide a steady stream of income that can sustain a business through both good times and bad. Many technology solutions are geared toward attracting new customers, but what about tools to help small businesses keep the customers they already have?

Here are five great tools that can help get you started:

  • Opiniator–This app encourages customers to provide feedback via a short survey they can complete either through text, phone call, or online. They can even provide this feedback through a smartphone. If feedback is negative, it is immediately forwarded to the business owner so they can begin taking corrective action. For positive feedback, consumers are directed to a social media site where they can rave about their experience. National pest control business Rentokil uses Opiniator to rate its service by handing customers a small card upon entering the house. The customer can then rate the service in only two minutes.
  • Apptivo–Billing itself as a “loyalty management app,” Apptivo allows businesses to reward customers with points, discounts, or certificates. Once points have been awarded, businesses can manage them through the app. Apptivo also provides an overview of all of a company’s existing customers to provide a “360-degree view” of a business’s customers.
  • Basecamp–Initially, Basecamp seems like a turbo-charged project management system, but one of the best things about Basecamp is a non-retail small business’s ability to include clients on team pages. Clients can be a part of the project from beginning to end, keeping them informed at all times, if you choose. The software also allows team members to chat, share documents, and check everyone’s schedule at one glance to make scheduling meetings a breeze.
  • Fun Mobility–One great way to set your loyalty program apart from the rest is to make it fun. Fun Mobility lets customers view rewards and current points status via a lively, colorful interface. Customers are also encouraged to promote your company, product, or service through social media channels with one click, at which point they are directed to a section of the app with mini games.
  • Tello–Since customer feedback is essential to understanding how customers are experiencing your business, Tello is a great option. Like Opiniator, Tello addresses the realization that to get consumer feedback, the system needs to be easy and simple. Tello lets customers enter feedback in less than thirty seconds via a smartphone. Feedback takes place in real time and, in some cases, businesses can be notified of problems while the customer is still on site, taking measures to remedy the problem before the customer leaves the location.

Of course, the basics of customer retention still remain. Good, friendly customer service, a stellar product, and competitive pricing must be in place for any technological tool to do its job.

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Stephanie Faris

Stephanie is a freelance writer and young adult/middle grade novelist, who worked in information systems for more than a decade. Her first book, 30 Days of No Gossip, will be released by Simon and Schuster in spring 2014. She lives in Nashville with her husband.

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