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8 Ways to Cultivate Customer Loyalty

Add to this the fact that the cost of attracting new customers is significantly more than that of retaining existing ones, and you’ve got yourself a pretty powerful incentive to keep your bread-’n-butter customers happy!

[box title=””]Depending on which study you believe, and what industry you’re in, acquiring a new customer is anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one.[/box]

Yet, time and again, many businesses ignore or neglect their loyal base in their pursuit of net new customers. So, if your business’s goal is to grow and prosper, and be around for the long haul, then your efforts toward building your customer loyalty should be at the very top of your priority list.

Here are 8 ways to create and cultivate customer loyalty…

#1 Introduce Yourself & Address Your Customers by Name

Pretty simple, huh!? Yet this is perhaps the most overlooked way to build the trust that is necessary for a long-term relationship. So make a habit of sharing your name with customers right away, and encourage your employees to do the same. You’re letting a customer know that you’re willing to be accountable and they can call on you.

People feel a greater connection when they know each other’s names, and making them feel important and respected, is one of the reasons they’ll keep calling on you and your business.

#2 Always Provide Great Customer Service

Customers remember being treated well, and positive customer experiences will inevitably result in repeat and word-of-mouth business.

Has a client voiced any concerns and complaints? Listen! This is invaluable feedback and they are letting you know why they’re dissatisfied. This is your opportunity to resolve their issue and improve your service. I’d rather have a client complain about something to me, rather than have them cancel service and NOT know why.

Make sure that there’s a clear and accessible way for customers to communicate with you. If you publish a phone number on your website, you should answer within 2 rings, if you share an email address, you should really answer it within 4 business hours and if you offer a chat widget on your website, you should respond within a few seconds of their ping. If you can’t reliably do these things, then you need to be excellent at only one channel of communication. Choose that channel and exceed their expectations.

And this goes without saying, always maintain an upbeat and positive attitude toward your customers; the reputation of your business is only a Yelp review away.

#3 Build a Reputation for Reliability

Reliability and reputation go together like, “rama lama lama ka dinga da dinga dong!

If you say a part or product will arrive on Tuesday, deliver it on Tuesday.

If you say that a service will be provided by 12 p.m. on Monday, provide the service by 12 p.m. on Monday.

Always be reliable, communicate clearly and often, honor your guarantees or warranties and be considerate of your customers’ time and/or concerns. If something goes wrong, as it will inevitably happen, then let customers know immediately and apologize for the inconvenience.

#4 Lead By Example

Treat your employees the way you want them to treat your customers.

If you genuinely care about your employees, you have integrity in all of your dealings and you provide them with a healthy working environment, you are not only earning your employees’ respect, you are creating an environment that they’ll be proud to be part of and your customers are going to receive better service for it.

Happy Employees = Happy Clients.

#5 Always Keep Training

Your employees are the front line of your company, and proper training can teach them the how’s and why’s about providing the best possible service.

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 the on-the-spot demonstration of best practices.

#6 Be Flexible

Don’t be a stickler for policies. I’ve never seen a policy that was etched in stone.

You’ve got to realize that every customer has unique backgrounds, needs, and circumstances. If you can solve a customer problem or complaint, within reason, then why not?! If you can remain open and flexible to finding a solution, you are already on your way to keeping a client for life!

If you aren’t flexible and have the mentality of “That’s not my job”, “That’s not my responsibility”, “That’s not my problem”, or “That’s our policy”, you are just hankering for a fight – next up – a bad Yelp review, he/she is going to tell everyone he/she knows about how awful your business is and you’re basically ensuring that he/she and a good swath or their friends or acquaintances never, ever come back, or never, ever call you, for service, to begin with.

#7 Provide Customer Incentives

You know the ones…. a free service added to the larger sale, a goodie bag with product samples, movie tickets for two, and VIP gift cards can all be used as a reward for being a loyal customer.

A savvy business owner will use an incentive program to boost business during slow seasons and or to promote new products or service offerings to their already loyal base.

#8 Keep In Touch

Now that you’re on a first-name basis, you need a plan for keeping in touch with the customers you already service. This can take on so many forms – an email newsletter, a seasonal flyer, a reminder call for an appointment, a holiday greeting card, a Facebook post, or even a tweet. (Just remember to keep your social media feeds relevant and fresh!)

Please remember that not “all” of your messages need to be advertising! — you can send out useful tips or share a news story about your company’s’ contributions to the community or its participation in charitable events.

In the long run, keeping in touch will keep you and your business at the forefront. The next time they need {insert your service here}, guess who they’ll be calling!

If you are interested in learning more about how to grow your business, check out this free email course that I will be hosting in the next few weeks: Double Your Client Base in 30 Days