The realistic goal of building customer loyalty is to try to capture and retain the customer for a period of time and build “limited” loyalty. There are many ways you can increase customer loyalty and improve the prospects of keeping the customers longer. This final segment concludes the listing of ways to build customer loyalty. By implementing as many as possible that pertain to your particular type of business, the better chance you have of keeping that “fickle” customer.
17. Show customers how to save money. Everyone wants to save a buck when they can, and if you can take the initiative to show customers how they can save some money, they’ll stick with you longer because they know you’re looking out for them.
18. Recognize your faithful long-term customers. The customers that keep buying and keep ordering from you deserve special treatment. Offer “preferred customer” specials that you send out to only those faithful customers. Let them know that you appreciate their business.
19. Practice “niche” marketing. Look for markets which BEST match your company’s products and services. Then strive to become a big fish in a small pond. Competition is generally less intense in niche markets and your strong position will fend off unwanted intruders. We have done this with our patterns and classes for Plus Size Children. Find your NICHE and work as hard as you can to become THE big fish in the pond!
20. Offer customer-convenient hours. If you have a store, can you stay open an hour later to provide extra shopping time for working people? If you have a home business, can you offer “after hours by appointment”, or extend your hours to 6 or 7 pm a couple days a week?
21. Use a voice mail or answering machine for after hour calls. By making this service available to your customers, they can complete a request or ask their question and realize that it’s taken care of so they won’t have to remember to call the second time the next day.
22. Return all telephone calls. The voice mail or answering machine won’t provide any customer service at all unless you return the calls, and return them promptly. Develop a reputation for returning calls, and solving any questions or problems your customers may have.
23. Give customers a surprise. Kids aren’t the only ones that like surprises. Perhaps you can offer a “one day in-store” special every Thursday, for example. Let the customer’s know that something special will be happening each Thursday. Since only the customers that shop there that day will be aware of the surprise special, you’ll see a definite increase in shoppers. Be sure the “surprise” is a valuable discount or “freebie” that’s given away with each purchase that day. You might try giving out candy with Valentine’s Day purchases, or perhaps a rose with a Mother’s Day purchase. If you’re a sewing or alteration business working out of your home, you might make some pot holders with “we appreciate your business” on them to give out to customers. Even small “surprises” make the customer feel special.
24. Introduce something new. “New” can be anything from changing display racks around, changing window displays on a weekly basis, or even offering a temporary “new” item that doesn’t even relate to what you normally sell. If you have a customer area in your sewing business at your home, put up some craft items that you’ve made to sell. “Decorate” the customer area with an assortment of baby doll quilts, wall hangings, and the like, all with price tags on them, then change up the area every couple of weeks.
25. Increase your promotional efforts. Keep your name in front of the people. The more your name becomes a “household word”, the more business will come your way. Whether you do classified advertising, display advertising, flyers, posters, newsletters, posts on forums, writing up your own blog, etc, your name and business must constantly be where customers can see it. Small gifts, such as pens, refrigerator magnets or coffee mugs with your logo on it will bring your name to mind every time the customer uses the item.
Recognize the fact that the economic pie is shrinking as the numbers of businesses grow, therefore the quickest way to increase your share of the market is to take business away from the competition. How can you take business away from the competitor? By incorporating as many of the twenty-five tips as possible. These strategies are designed to give YOU the extra edge over the competition.