Maintaining good relationships with customers should be job one for every small business. In the absence of customer loyalty and repeat patronage, even the most impressive small business will find itself unable to stay afloat. So, if your current approach to customer relationships leaves much to be desired, you’d do well to address this issue immediately. To this end, the following pointers are likely to prove useful.
Make Amends for Mistakes
A refusal to make amends for mistakes is one of the most common reasons for which customer relationships go south. It seems like everyone has a friend, family member or acquaintance in their life who refuses to admit mistakes under any circumstances – and more often than not, we hate having to deal with these people. That being the case, why would we subject ourselves to such treatment from the businesses we help support?
In fairness, no one relishes being presented with their own mistakes. Even if we’re very clearly at fault, having someone point this fact out is liable to seem like a personal attack. However, immediately going on the defensive whenever someone is inconvenienced by a mistake you’ve made won’t serve you well in your personal relationships – and the same is doubly true for your professional relationships.
With this in mind, place your ego on the backburner whenever a customer comes to you with a grievance. Even if you don’t believe this grievance to be warranted or legitimate, it’s in your best interest to try seeing things from the customer’s standpoint and doing everything in your power to make amends. Refusing to acknowledge or fix mistakes made on the part of your business can cause considerable damage to your customer relations and professional reputation. On the flipside, a willingness to own up to mistakes and make amends for them is likely to facilitate forgiveness and repeat business.
Seek to Keep Customers Informed
Keeping your customer base informed is a great way to minimize misunderstandings and miscommunications, both of which can cause considerable problems. Furthermore, given the multitude of accessible options for keeping customers in the know, you have no excuse for refusing to do so. For example, sending updates to customers via text or email whenever major changes are taking place or special events are on the horizon can help ensure that patrons never feel as if they’ve missed out. Good marketing automation solutions can prove particularly helpful in this endeavor.
You can also keep patrons informed via regular website updates. In fact, creating a weekly blog can benefit your business on a number of fronts. In addition to providing loyal patrons with incentive to keep checking back, a regularly-updated blog can help boost your search ranking and bring your business to the attention of scores or potential customers. If you lack the bandwidth or writing experience to produce a weekly blog, consider delegating this task to other team members or enlisting the aid of an experienced freelance writer.
Regularly Express Appreciation
A customer who feels appreciated is a customer who’s liable to keep coming back. As such, you and your staff should express appreciation to your patrons at every available opportunity. Among other things, this entails ending exchange with a patron by sincerely thanking them for their support and expressing a desire to serve them again.
Businesses looking to provide valued customers with tangible rewards for their patronage should consider implementing customer loyalty programs. These programs work particularly well with restaurants, cafes and other businesses that serve food. For example, punch cards that culminate in free treats and special discounts can be fantastic tools for strengthening customer retention. You may also want to consider extending exclusive offers to patrons who provide their phone and email.
Every small business owner should seek to maintain favorable relationships with customers. In the absence of good customer relations, you’re liable to have trouble generating repeat business and endearing yourself to patrons. Fortunately, making customers feel valued and providing them with incentive to keep coming back are much easier than many businesses make it look. Putting forth a little bit of effort and being willing to abandon long-time habits can prove tremendously helpful in your customer retention efforts. So, if better relationships with customers are what you seek, heed the advice outlined above.