It’s no secret that your small business relies on steady customers, and the right customer retention tactics can help ensure they keep coming back.
No matter how much work you put into your small business, without customers, you can’t pay the bills. Marketing and pulling in new customers are part of your business plan because, despite what Kevin Costner may say, if you build it, they won’t actually come. In fact, they won’t even know about your business unless you market it. But once they do come, you have to keep them coming back.
Customer retention tactics have long taken a back seat in the world of business marketing. But you know as well as anyone that those office workers who buy coffee in your shop every day are the ones keeping your business going. The homeowners who hire you every September to clean their heating system keep your trucks on the road. Those regular, steady customers are the backbone of your business. That’s why it’s so vitally important to put in the effort to retain those customers.
7 Customer Retention Tactics You Can Take to the Bank
1. VIP treatment (or not?)
You’ve witnessed it. Maybe you’ve experienced it. You go to a restaurant or an auto dealer, and the staff goes out of their way to give someone the VIP treatment. The VIP gets seated right away. Their car goes into the repair bay right away. The problem is that all the other customers don’t feel like their business is important, and they’ll go somewhere else. However, if everyone is a VIP (meaning you treat everyone with the same level of respect and attention), you send the message that everyone’s business is important to you.
2. Admit mistakes and correct them
Try as we might to be perfect, we all make mistakes. You may overcharge someone, give them the wrong order, or install a faulty part. It’s ok to make a mistake, but you have to own up to it and correct it. If you miss their order and they have to wait a long time for their dinner, add in a free dessert or give them a discount and be sure to apologize. “I’m sorry we messed up your order, but it will be right out, and we’re taking 25% off your bill for the inconvenience.” Those customers are almost guaranteed to come back.
3. Don’t surprise your customers
At least, don’t surprise your customers in a bad way. Whether that’s charging them more than they expected or taking longer to do a job than you estimated, it’s always better to underpromise and overdeliver than overpromise and underdeliver.
4. Do surprise your customers
In a good way, this time. Reward your customers with something special. Add a handwritten note to online orders. Have free coffee for your clients. Keep interesting books in your lobby. There are plenty of free and inexpensive perks you can share with your customers.
5. Reward loyalty
There are plenty of software solutions for tracking customer purchases, which is excellent for customer service and also for rewards. One of the customer retention tactics that’s gaining traction in small businesses is offering a $25 credit when your purchases add up to $500 over time. So a regular customer who spends $40 each week in your business will get a $25 credit about four times each year. While it may seem like a lot to give away, you're essentially spending $100 to make $1,900. You don't have to rely on software or customer tracking or even discounts, though. When you see the same customer over and over, you know they're spending money with you. Bring them into the kitchen and give them a behind-the-scenes look at your operation or ask their opinion on a new product you might order.
6. Keep your customers in the know
Sending out a weekly or monthly newsletter can do a lot to retain customers. An auto shop could send out seasonal maintenance or driving tips. A wine bar could send information about three or four wines from a particular region.
7. Share the value of your business
Customers want a good deal, but they also want a good value. You may not be able to compete with the big stores on price, but you absolutely can compete on value. More personalized service, better attention to detail, and the ability to be genuinely personal are just some of the ways you can add value to your customers’ experience. Just make sure you share that value. Point out the handmade iron skillet from the small cookware company near you or the fact that when a customer calls you for service, they can actually get through and talk with someone who can handle their request.
The best customer retention tactics go back to the basic tenets of customer service. Be fair, be honest, and treat people well, and your customers will be knocking down your door.
Focus on your business, and let Pekin Insurance focus on protecting your business. Call your local Pekin Insurance agent today to learn more about insurance solutions for your small business.