Get your patrons to say, “I’ll be back”
October 01, 2012
How do you develop a loyal customer base? You can start today. With these four tips you can begin the journey to developing meaningful, lasting relationships with your customers.
SAN ANGELO, Texas — Are your customers loyal?
According to Gary Hamel in his article, “Strategy as Revolution,” customer loyalty is defined as “a deeply held commitment to rebuy or repatronize a preferred product or service in the future despite situational influences and marketing efforts having the potential to cause switching behavior.” In other words, loyal customers will stick with a specific brand or company’s product or service despite other discount offers, marketing efforts, or substitutes from a competitor that otherwise should sway them.
Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Customers who will come back to you, despite a tempting offer from a competitor? When a customer is loyal, they not only prefer your brand, product, or service above all others, but they are characteristically an advocate for you as well. They want to share your remarkable business or product with friends, family, and even their online network. But how does a company woo these customers and cultivate that loyalty?
Developing loyal customers is no easy task and has become increasingly difficult because of the overabundance of choices available via the Internet today. But, it is still possible with a little strategy and persistence. Here are a few tips for developing loyal customers:
Target your efforts on a few of your most promising patrons.
Don’t try to convert all of your customers into loyal customers because, for some, the investment might not pay off. Customers who are primarily concerned with price will typically change providers as soon as a cheaper offer comes along. Instead, focus on those customers who place a high value on customer service, quality, and the overall purchasing process. These customers will appreciate the extra effort made on your part to create a pleasing experience for them.
Learn more about them.
Once you have narrowed your customers to a promising list, you can begin to build a customer database about them. What are their preferences? What are some of their favorite products to purchase and why? Even more, if appropriate, ask them to fill out information cards including birthdays, career information, or family information. This information can be used in the future to tailor offers or outreach precisely to them.
Really listen to feedback.
When customers are dissatisfied with a purchase or an experience do you only see it as an inconvenience? These cases provide prime opportunities to go out of your way to make it right, and make a lasting impression. This feedback can help you learn more about how to please a particular customer and improve your product/service or marketing efforts to make the buying experience more enjoyable.
Remember the details.
Finally, don’t forget that customers are people, too. Recalling fine points about a previous transaction, offering well wishes for their family, going out of your way to fix a poor product or service, or remembering important holidays or birthdays can go a long way to show you care and show a personal side to your business.
Go the extra step, past your competitors, to truly woo your customers. By fostering relationships with your most promising patrons, learning about their preferences and interests, and remembering the details, you can begin to develop loyal customers. Once these customers are loyal, they will not only stick with you, but will be advocates as well. Developing loyal customers is an investment truly worth the effort.
“Business Tips” was written by Jessica Lambert, business development training coordinator and certified training coordinator of Angelo State University’s Small Business Development Center. Contact her at Jessica.Lambert@angelo.edu.