Small Business Advice

Building customer loyalty

Charlotte Harwood

How to keep customers happy - and make sure they come back.

You’ve heard it time and time again: the customer is king. But how do you make sure a first-time customer becomes a regular customer, and a regular customer becomes a loyal one?

Put the customer first

Head to any review site and you’ll see two extremes: very positive and very negative. On the whole, people remember great customer service, but they also remember terrible customer service. They rarely remember an ‘ok’ experience.

The aim, then, is to make sure that your business consistently achieves the positive, and offers customers a service that they’ll remember for all the right reasons. To do this, you need to put your customers first. Listen to their needs, respond to them, and make sure they leave your premises having had their expectations exceeded.

Deliver what you promise

If you tell your customers that you’ll give them something, make sure that you actually do. If, for example, you say that your product offers superior quality or that your customer service is first-class, do everything you can to fulfil those promises. Misleading customers is a sure-fire way of making sure they steer clear of your business – and that’s exactly what you don’t want.

Create a common goal

If your staff don’t care, your customers will pick up on it. Just one bad experience can put someone off becoming a loyal customer, and, even worse, they’ll tell others about it. To avoid this happening, make sure that every member of staff you employ is clear on your company values and vision. Unite everyone with the common goal of offering a great product, great service, or just being great overall. If everyone knows what you’re aiming for, it’ll be easier to achieve it.

Follow up post-purchase

There’s never a guarantee that even those who have a positive experience with your business will become return customers, but there are things that you can do to increase the chances of them coming back. Following up after a purchase is a great way of giving customers a gentle nudge and of showing that you genuinely care about them. This can be something as simple as an email asking if everything is ok, but you could go further and send out discounts and special offers to ensure return custom.

But make sure that you get the balance right. There’s a fine line between looking after your customers and hassling them with endless communication that they don’t want or need. In fact, too much communication will have the opposite effect of driving customers away, so think about how often is necessary to reach out.

For more tips on making a success of your small business, check out the Growing your business section of the Biz Hub.