When you lay your first brick in the market, your primary focus is the acquisition of customers. The gritty details of staying afloat pass you by as you struggle to find that oasis where you can take the time to think about a more refined strategy. But once you’ve got a few customers that come regularly, retaining them should be the priority. After mastering the art of wooing your customers, you need to get them to commit to you.
If you focus on each individual, you’ll end up perceiving retention as this formula full of fine details where even the tiniest misstep can completely ruin your vibe. The truth is that customer retention—at least in the initial stages of growth—involves painting with the broadest strokes possible. Get too caught up in the details, and you’ll spend too much time on minutiae to run your business efficiently.
Repeat customers are the lifeblood of small businesses, with about a third of them reporting that 71-90% of their customers visit more than once per year and 70% of their profits come from their loyal customer base. Once you’ve gathered steam, you have to know how to keep it without blowing it all out. Here are a couple of guidelines that will create an environment that’s conducive to that kind of momentum:
Show Your Expertise
Let’s suppose you’re running a hardware shop and you don’t know how a rotary-percussion drill works. That would leave a horrible impression on customers even if they themselves don’t know this information. The moment someone walks up to you, they come with the expectation that you’re the authority on everything you’re offering.
Make sure that any employees you hire have a passion for what it is you offer. They should be willing to walk up to customers and assist them even when such assistance wasn’t requested. Interacting with people who represent a business makes it feel more “alive”. Even if you’re selling hammers, your customers want to feel like they also bought a service. They want to value the time that they spent with you.
Don’t Be Shy About Social Media
Surely your idea of running a business 10 years ago didn’t involve spending time on the laptop or tablet typing up tweets, did it? Oh, how times have changed! Almost half the world’s population is connected to the internet, which gives you a potential reach that stretches far beyond your local area.
Keep in mind that buying ads on social media has its uses, but it only takes you so far. People on the web pay more attention when you speak with them directly and give them a line with which they can reach you anytime. Facebook is great for this since it allows people with accounts to send your business page a message that you can reply to. Twitter on the other hand is great for inserting your brand into conversations. Get active on the web and see where it takes you. People who like your attitude will feel as if they “fit in” with your business culture. When others see that you are responsive to messages, they’re more likely to send you one, too. It’s up to you if you want to take advantage of the potential snowball effect.
Organize Your Background Processes
The modern-day small business runs on coffee and technology. The days of the “mom and pop” shop that closed at odd hours of the day to do its inventory and get its papers in order were left behind back in 2011.
Today, we are overwhelmed with the sheer amount of applications we need to keep everything running smoothly. Having most day-to-day functions handy in your point of sale system would not only ease this burden, but also keep your customers’ data safe. Modern POS systems offer you the possibility of introducing reward systems like loyalty cards and give you access to a variety of payment systems that anticipate any needs a customer might have.
Modernizing your infrastructure no longer requires the large investment it did back in the early 2010s and most applications now mold themselves around your business model. You now have a plethora of options that can give customers more incentive to return while at the same time improving their overall experience during visits. This two-pronged strategy provides you with the synergy you need to keep people coming to your door.
Reward Your Most Loyal Customers
Loyal customers often have a tendency to spend more. The 80-20 rule comes to mind, which states that 80 percent of your revenue will come from 20 percent of your customers. They’ve stuck with you and have given you the largest chunk of your revenue. Perhaps it’s time to think about how you can reward that.
By providing a reward, you’re giving your customers a clear signal that you appreciate their patronage. That may provide just the incentive they need to stick with you through the long run. Perhaps you can give them a discount on their next purchase or provide them with a higher-tiered loyalty program with which they can save more as they make larger purchases. Whatever you do has to be sufficiently memorable enough for you to have a reasonable expectation that the customer will come more often.
It’s All About The Experience
Customer retention goes hand-in-hand with quality of experience. If your customers walk out with warm, fuzzy feelings, they’re more likely to put your business in their “mental speed-dial”. This makes them more likely to think about your brand the next time they need something you have to offer. Rewarding loyalty will solidify the relationship you have with your customers, establishing a bond that gets more difficult to break as time passes. Building upon that increases your customer retention and makes life easier for everyone!