How to build customer loyalty so you can live long & prosper

Without repeat customers, your business won’t last long. Building loyalty with just 5 percent of your customers can lead to a 25 to 100 percent increase in average profit per customer. Conversely, once you lose a customer there’s a 68 percent chance that they’re never coming back.

Happily, there are a few simple things you can do to make sure your customers are singing your praises:

1.    Communicate to your customers. Whether it’s through social media, an e-newsletter or in-store signage and buzz, make sure your customers know what sets you apart from your competitors, when your sales are, how your product or service can make their life better and when something exciting is happening for your business.

2.    Listen up. What’s that old adage? Communication is a two-way street. Read your Yelp and Google reviews. Pore over the comments made on your social media profiles and posts. Talk with your customers in person or ask them for feedback online. Ask them what you’re doing right and what you’re doing wrong and be prepared to follow up on the things that need improvement.

3.    Value your employees. Loyalty starts at the top and works its way down. Customers are able to tell whether your employees are happy working for you or if they’re miserable. And, whether directly or indirectly, those attitudes get passed on to customers. For more tips, check out our recent post — Six Steps to Building a Great Team.

4.    Offer more than what’s expected. Loyalty reward programs aren’t just for big-box stores. We love this blog post from Quickbooks outlining how small businesses can design a successful frequent buyer program.

5.    Make it personal. Customers often frequent small businesses precisely because they are more warm and fuzzy than big chains. Write customers handwritten notes; remember special occasions like birthdays, holidays and anniversaries; give them a call when something they frequently buy is restocked or on sale; feature them on your social media; pass on an article or local event info that you think they’d be interested in.

The bottom line? Great customer service can go a long way in helping you grow and sustain your business. Commit every day to following the Golden Rule and treat your customers the way you’d want to be treated.