Customer loyalty: How can your small business keep them coming back?

In today’s digitally savvy market customers can get what they want quicker, cheaper and more conveniently than ever before.

But with this shift comes a range of options for the average customer. Competitors are fighting to offer the best experience at the lowest cost and customers are more and more willing to take their time in order to find the best deal. This means maintaining customer loyalty can be a challenge.

With that said, a recent study found that 86% of Aussie consumers see themselves as people who are willing to support small businesses, which means being a small business owner gives you an inherent advantage when it comes to fostering customer loyalty.

So, how can you start building loyalty with your customers? Here are our top loyalty and retention tips for small business owners:

Reward customers with a loyalty program.

As you might expect, customer loyalty programs are one of the best ways to encourage, well, customer loyalty. In fact, according to a global study on customer loyalty, 77% of consumers say loyalty programs make them more likely to stay with a brand, while 70% of consumers are more likely to recommend a brand with a good loyalty program.

The most effective loyalty programs tap into the key needs and wants of a target demographic to offer the right reward at the right moment. Not every type of loyalty program will appeal to every customer, so it’s important to first understand what drives your typical customers before implementing a loyalty program. Would they be after better value? Free or discounted products? VIP service?

Nail your customer relationship management strategy.

Customer relationship management (CRM) is critical to the success of any business, but it’s especially important for small businesses that tend to have a more specific and localised customer base. There is a multitude of customer relationship strategies out there, but the basic principles are as follows:

  • Know your target customers’ wants, needs and problems
  • Maintain an ongoing relationship with customers both online and offline
  • Analyse your customers’ behaviours and cater your service approach to fit accordingly
  • Provide service that is as personalised as possible

Collecting all this information and then utilising it can involve mulitple touch points, which is why many businesses large and small use CRM tools to streamline the process. Yellow Pages’ Pocket Office, for example, is specifically made for small businesses and allows you to connect with your customers in a range of ways from facilitating bookings, to email marketing and invoice generation. 

Ultimately, utilising a CRM equals better, more personalised relationships with customers, and that goes hand-in-hand with customer loyalty – so consider investing in a CRM that can help you organise and manage your customer relationships more effectively.

RELATED: eBook: The small business guide to customer relationship management (CRM).

Inspire with your business vision.

The more a customer understands and trusts your business, the easier it is to generate loyalty. Having a clear mission and vision for your business can help communicate who you are to your customers. 

Think about the passion behind your business and why you started it in the first place. When writing your mission and vision statements, remember that they should be tailored specifically to your business. Make sure to:

  • Be realistic (and therefore authentic)
  • Describe a clear benefit to your target customer
  • Be motivational and/or solve a problem

If you can drill down to the core ‘what’, ‘how’ and ‘why’ of your business, you’ll be in a good position to convince customers of the value in supporting you.

RELATED: Customer retention and loyalty tips for family-owned businesses.

Make customer feedback count.

In an ideal world, all customer feedback would be glowing – but the reality is that no business can keep every customer happy all the time. The good news is that constructive criticism is worth its weight in gold for improving your business model and fostering customer loyalty – but only if you put it into action.

Whether it’s a less-than-stellar review online or a suggestion from a customer, take every piece of feedback you receive seriously and consider how you can use it to provide better service. After all, your customers are the bread and butter of your business, and if they feel they’re being listened to, they’re more likely to stick with you over a competitor.

Get Yellow Pages' Pocket Office, the all-in-one CRM tool designed for small business.

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