SCORE Small Business Blog

Marketing: How to Make Customers Loyal to Your Business

Learn to Foster Customer Loyalty

When customers can easily comparison shop online with a few mouse clicks, the notion of loyalty seems almost old fashioned. Your best customers are someone else’s most sought-after prospects.

Big companies have adopted a fancy term for addressing the problem, called “customer retention management” or CRM. Massive amounts of time and energy are devoted to it, including countless Web sites, conferences, software products, online applications, magazines and books.

The core of the issue, however, comes down to something small business owners have been good at for centuries: building customer loyalty. A loyal customer is doing business with you, not your competition. Building relationships with your customers and giving them a reason to come again is essential.

Small businesses that concentrate on keeping customers are more successful in the long run. Selling to people you already know and understand is more efficient, more predictable and more profitable. A loyal customer base gives you an edge.

But building loyalty is not a marketing matter, so don’t look there for help. Spend all you want to attract new cadres of customers, but if they don’t stick around your days could be numbered.

When a customer leaves, you should consider it unacceptable. Find out why it happened and then work to prevent it from happening again. Many times it may be an employee who may be having a bad day or an employee that is not sensitive to the customers needs. Employee attitudes must always be good. Customers know when an employee does not like their job and it will affect sales and customer loyalty.

To foster customer loyalty, a small business needs a strategy that keeps customers coming back. It starts with basics that are sometimes overlooked. Thanking customers for their business, for example, goes a long way. But try going beyond a few spoken words. Write some thank you notes and letters. Make them personal and sincere. Just let them know you appreciate their business.

Creating value will help boost loyalty. Ask customers if there is anything else you could be doing for them. Then, after they tell you, do it.

Customers are more likely to be loyal if you make it easy for them to do business with you. Review each customer and know how they do business with you, how often they purchase, how profitable each sale is and how often you can stay in touch. How can you offer incentives to generate more sales You can’t buy loyalty, but you can make it easier to happen. Special perks, discounts or freebies for loyalty work wonders. Always appreciate your customers.

Julie BranderBusiness Mentor, SCORE New Haven
Julie has been a SCORE volunteer since 1997. She has 20 years of experience in business, starting a manufacturing, wholesale and retail jewelry company. After selling her business, she dedicated herself to helping other entrepreneurs start and expand their business. | @juliebrander | More from Julie

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