…and some customer retention rules that will keep them coming back
Attracting customers to your business and nurturing them into returning customers can feel like the hardest job in the world, and it’s what every business owner worries about, but it needn’t be difficult.
Aside from the usual advertising methods is there anything else you could do?
Go with your strengths
If you are a fan of ‘The Apprentice’ you can’t help but notice that Alan Sugar is purely focused on making money, and has often said ‘follow the money’. What he means is that he wants the candidates to examine what customers find attractive and offer them more of the same. It’s a simple tip, but when you are immersed in your business it’s difficult to know what your best product is. It may not be the product that you like best, so you need to be open minded about your offering, and really investigate what makes you money. Knowing your best selling product or service is a huge strength, because you can then capitalise on it.
Once you understand what customers will buy, then you can make this your standout product and do all the right things that bring it to prominence. Put it at the top of your website home page, show it on social media more than your other products. Create special offers and discounts around that main product.
Make your products look great and invest in fantastic photography to use on your website and your social media.
If you offer a service then show your staff looking happy. Smiling faces will be infectious and create a good feeling in your customers. At the very least get some stock images of smiling people, but make sure they look natural. Customers will know if they are looking at a model, so search out the images that look real.
Be clear! Are you putting the right message out there? Imagine you are a greengrocer. Your shop will probably have the word greengrocer on a big sign, along with a fine display of fruit and veg in the window and you can expect a steady supply of customers who what to buy your product. However, imagine if the sign said something ambiguous like ‘quality produce’ or ‘fresh ideas’ and the window just had a picture of a kitchen. Even if there were vegetables in the picture would your customers understand what was on offer? Would they even venture inside? Probably not, so it’s worth thinking about your website in the same way.
Does your home page explain your business to new visitors. Our brains make decisions in seconds, so if the top of the page doesn’t adequately state what you do, a brand new customer may click away. It’s so easy to feel that you have explained something properly, but have you really? Think about the times you have made a birthday invitation and forgotten to add the date or venue. You know where the party is, so it’s really easy to ‘feel’ that everyone else has the same knowledge. It’s exactly the same with your business!
Keep in the forefront of your mind that new customers come to you fresh and need a complete education in what you do, where you are, and what your prices are.
There are lots of online directories that offer free listings. Find the ones that specialise in your area of business and make a free listing. You can add all the key search phrases that get you found and most directories will want you to add your website and social media links.
Providing great customer service is the key to success in retaining your existing customers. Make sure you respond to their concerns quickly and treat them with respect. If you get a complaint, remain business like and don’t be tempted to get angry or take it personally.
Even if someone sends you a terrible email full of criticism, don’t be tempted to ignore it or reply with the same nasty tone. Thank them for their interest in your business and offer a solution or express sorrow that you couldn’t help them. Keep your tone professional and they’ll have nothing to criticize. Try to help if you can and leave the ball in their court. It’s not worth upsetting anyone. Especially if they are likely to leave a bad review.
If you solve a problem well, you will not only keep the customer happy but most likely gain an advocate who will recommend your business to their friends and be loyal to you.
Treat every customer like they are royalty! Every single one! If you ever read bad reviews for other companies they will likely be aimed at poor service and the comments will say ‘they don’t care about their customers’. This probably isn’t true, but if one person gets poor service this is how they feel and they will express their dissatisfaction with sweeping statements in online reviews. Getting a bad review will hurt, so prevent them from happening by taking the time to respond well… every single time!
Provide a consistent service
Meeting a customers expectations is important because they will keep coming back and recommending you to their friends, but in order to do this well you need to have a team that understands exactly what the standard of service is.
Your staff should have a set of rules that helps them to solve problems quickly. If a customer requests a refund they should understand the criteria for this. For example if a product is broken upon delivery they may need to send a photograph as proof, or declare a problem within a certain time period. Staff need an amount of autonomy in order to solve problems and rules are the key here.
To maintain a good standard it is important that your team understands exactly what the standard of service is through regular meetings and updates where they are allowed to make contributions and are listened to.
Customers love to feel that they are saving money and if you offer discounted products or a loyalty scheme. They will interpret this as good value and develop an emotional attachment to your brand. Be consistent, and offer a new discounts at regular intervals. Customers will soon get used to your business being the one to watch.
If you have social media accounts, be sure to share the discounts on these too, so people get used to seeing them and are encouraged to follow you.
If you send products through the post or via courier, consider adding a leaflet that has a discount code for future purchases or one that encourages the customer to leave an online review.
Stay in Touch
If you can gather customer email addresses then a regular newsletter is a fabulous way of communicating with people who already like your products. Offer discounts to newsletter subscribers on a regular basis so they feel special, and have a sign-up form on your website that states ‘exclusive offers every week / month’.
A newsletter doesn’t have to be full of ‘news’, just a short page with one good special offer and a picture will be enough.
Statistics are key!
Customer retention is a valuable skill that will help your business weather the storm of recessions, pandemics and the energy crisis. Your customers want to feel secure and cared about, so if you provide comfort and reliability this will generate goodwill that will pay you back in spades!
“Don’t find customers for your products, find products for your customers” – Seth Godin
Understanding what sells is one of the biggest strengths you have as a business owner. Find out what your customers love and give them more of it.
Xpert Technologies provide a free analytics tool for customers that will tell you exactly what your business strengths are… take a look Xpert Analytics