By: Siobhan Ashleigh
Oftentimes, small business owners focus most of their attention on gaining new customers, while missing out on some great opportunities to do more business with their old ones. Attracting new customers can actually cost up to 10 times more than investing in existing customers. People who already trust you and your brand are more likely to invest again in your products or services, making recurring customers one of the most efficient sources of ongoing income. Plus, they can be an important brand advocate. If they keep coming back, they’re much more likely to refer friends and family.
The question is, what does it take to win repeat business? It comes down to a little common sense, and a lot of creativity. Here are five ways a small business can keep customers coming back for more.
1. GET SMARTER WITH SOCIAL MEDIA
The internet is saturated with content, so when it comes to connecting with your customers via social media, it’s all about differentiating yourself. Start with using social media as a customer service platform – reply to customer comments and questions and communicate news and specials. Feature your most loyal customers, share tips you have learned as a small business owner, or hold competitions to engage your customers.
Larger companies have the luxury of being able to dedicate one person or a team of people to handle social media, but for solo business owners, that’s not an option. You can save yourself a lot of time by using a social media dashboard like Hootsuite, which allows you to monitor several social networks all in one place. You can schedule posts, track the performance of your posts, and manage campaigns easily, making a little effort go a long way.
2. MAKE IT PERSONAL
There’s a lot of influence in a personalized note, whether it is handwritten or digital. Customers want to feel understood and appreciated, especially when they are loyal to your brand. Send thank you notes to loyal customers when they’ve been with you for a year or when they leave a review. Send birthday emails or personalize incentives, such as discounts, or credits for customers who you haven’t seen in awhile. Richard Lazazzera from Shopify says, “Giving an unexpected gift also plays to the law of reciprocity…” That is to say, when a customer feels appreciated, they are more likely to return and more likely to refer others, which ensures repeat business and steady cash flow.
3. MAKE IT EASY TO PAY
At the end of each job comes payment, and you don’t want to end on a sour note by making it a hassle for your customer. In today’s digital age, businesses that don’t accept credit and debit are few and far between. In fact, debit and credit card are by far people’s favorite way to make a payment. According to a 2014 study done by the Federal Reserve’s Cash Products Office, 65% of people would rather pay by debit or credit card than any other form of payment, 30% prefer to pay by cash, and 3% prefer to pay by check (2% prefer other forms of payment). Small businesses can open the door to more opportunity by ensuring they’re offering the end-to-end experience their customers demand, and by making it as hassle-free as possible.
4. BE TRANSPARENT, UPFRONT AND PROFESSIONAL WITH BILLING
Use simple online and mobile tools like Invoice2go to create professional, fully itemized invoices complete with your company’s logo. By creating your invoice on the spot, your customers can see exactly what they’re paying for, and ask you questions while the work is fresh in their minds. This level of open, upfront communication can go a long way for building trust and repeat business.
5. DO GOOD BUSINESS
It’s been famously said, “A satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all.”
If a customer gives you business, treating them right and instilling trust will go further than anything else to build genuine, long-term loyalty.
Attracting new customers is always important, but it’s only half the battle. Keeping them coming back will help you build consistent cash flow over time. It takes research, experimentation and willingness to adapt to new technologies to keep profits coming in. It also takes treating customers like real people, not just numbers, which in the end, is all anyone really wants.