How Stores Build Customer Loyalty

How Stores Build Customer Loyalty, One of the keys to maintaining a thriving business is a steady customer base. A successful company typically sees 80 percent of its business come from 20 percent of its customers. Add to this the fact that the cost of attracting new customers is significantly more than that of maintaining a relationship with existing ones, and you have a powerful incentive to keep that core group of customers happy. Yet too many businesses neglect this loyal customer base in pursuit of new customers.
If your business's goal is to live long and prosper, then any efforts toward building customer loyalty will certainly pay off. Following are 10 tips to increase and maintain greater customer loyalty.

1. Communicate with Customers

Whether it's an email newsletter, a monthly flier, a reminder card for a tuneup, or a holiday greeting card, set up a system for reaching out to the customers you already have. Dedicate time to creating and maintaining a database of contact information, including phone, email, and snail mail addresses. If there's a social media element to your business, invite people to your page or website and keep that online element fresh.

Remember that all of your messages don't need to be advertising -- some can be useful information or can serve the community. In the long run, communication will pay off.

2. Provide Great Customer Service

Good customer service means going the extra mile to meet customer needs. Customers remember being treated well, and positive customer experiences result in repeat business. Pay attention to customer concerns and complaints. By letting you know when they're dissatisfied, your customers give you an opportunity to resolve their issue and to improve your service.

Make sure that there's a clear and accessible way for customers to communicate with you, whether it's in person, by phone, or by email, and that you have someone assigned to customer service on an ongoing basis. Remember to maintain an upbeat and positive attitude toward your customers; the reputation of your business is at stake.

3. Build Employee Loyalty, Too

There's an old saying that "fish stinks from the head down." Put in a more positive light, loyalty starts at the top and works its way throughout the company. If you're competent, you'll earn your employees' respect. If you have integrity in all of your dealings, your employees will be proud to work for and with you. If you're consistent in your decisions and actions and display a willingness to protect your employees, you'll earn their trust.

All of these qualities will build your employees' loyalty to you and the business. And if you're loyal to your employees, they'll feel good about their jobs and pass that loyalty along to your customers.

4. Train Employees Thoroughly

Your employees are the face of your company, and training can empower them to make your company prosper. Training sessions should be a positive experience; boring training sessions are a waste of time and money and foster a negative attitude toward the company.

Encourage your employees to engage in training and explain how it will help them on the job and why it's good for business. An excellent way to teach is on-the-job training, which facilitates on-the-spot demonstration of best practices.

5. Provide Customer Incentives

Customer incentives give people a reason to return to your business. They come in a variety of forms; buy two and get one free, frequent shopper points, rebates, adding a free service to the sale, gifts, and gift cards all offer enticement for people to choose your business when they decide to spend their hard-earned dollars.

Coordinate your incentive program with your marketing efforts and make sure the incentive is appropriate for your target audience. You can use the incentive program to boost business during slow seasons and to promote new products.

6. Promote Product Awareness

It may seem obvious, but sometimes it's forgotten in the competitive hustle of the marketplace that knowing your own product or service is essential to growing your business. Make sure that your staff understands everything they can about your products and service, including old standbys that just keep selling.

Break the business down into categories and show what's selling well, who it's selling to, and what's not working. Talk about the history of the company, which products were hits, and why. Know what your steady patrons purchase and keep these items in stock. Talk about how new products grow out of the old ones, and encourage brainstorming on ideas for the future.

7. Build a Reputation for Reliability

Your company's reputation is closely related to the reliability of your products and service. The more reliable these are, the more likely your company is to have a favorable reputation.

If you say a purchase will arrive on Wednesday, deliver it on Wednesday. If you say that a service will be provided by 3 p.m. on Thursday, do your best to make that happen.

Be reliable, communicate clearly, honor your promises and warranties, and be considerate of your customers' time and concerns. If something goes wrong, let customers know immediately and compensate them for the inconvenience.

8. Be Flexible with Policies

Remember that each customer is an individual with unique circumstances and needs. Do everything within reason to solve customer problems or complaints. Don't assume you understand the situation before you have heard the customer out and made an effort to see things from their perspective.

If you demonstrate that you're listening, you have a better chance of retaining their business, even if you can't fully solve the problem. Responses such as "That's our policy" will ensure customers never come back.

9. Don't Hide Behind Technology

Make sure that you clearly communicate to customers how they can get a real person to help them. The frustration of not being able to reach a human being at a business is such a universal experience that it has long since become material for comedians.

All of us have experienced poking numbers on our phone as we try to reach someone to help us, or listening to endless recorded music and finally giving up. The harder it is for a customer to speak to a real person when they have a problem, the less likely it is you'll see that customer again.

10. Address Customers by Name

Make sure that you and your employees get to know the names of regular customers. This kind of treatment makes people feel important and respected, and is one of the reasons they'll return to your business.

Whenever possible, make a habit of sharing your name with customers right away, and encourage your employees to do the same. People feel a greater connection when they know each other's names, and it sets the stage for the trust that's required for a long-term relationship. Name recognition also shows customers that you're willing to be accountable.

Follow us on Twitter! Follow us on Twitter!
Get our Latest Updates!