For a small business to survive, it is essential to build and grow a strong customer base who are loyal to your business’s products, brand, and to you, as the business owner. Rather you offer a service, or retail and wholesale goods, the types of customers you have can mean the difference between making money and succeeding or losing your customers and failing. In this blog, we’ll talk about how to keep the good customers that you have and how to obtain new, loyal customers.
Why is it important to keep current customers?
There are some very compelling, proven reasons to retain your current customer base. For instance, did you know:
- It costs 5x more to find a new customer than to keep your current customers.
- The probability of selling to your existing customer is 70% -vs- a new customer that is only 5 to 20%.
- Existing customers are 50% likely to buy a new product at about a 31% higher price.
Keeping the current customer base that you have is vital to the survival of any business, especially in the post-pandemic world.
How do I keep my current customer base?
Now more than ever, it is important to foster good relationships with your customer base. Everyone is experiencing change, new regulations, and new ways of conducting business. While this is the “new normal,” change does not lend itself to making people feel comfortable. It should be your goal help your customers feel at ease and happy with every interaction they have from your small business.
Great ideas for keeping a loyal customer base:
- Listen to your customers. No, really…read that again! Use every listening skill you were taught to really hear what your customers are telling you. Watch non-verbal cues and take into consideration what you are told. Listen with empathy and try very hard to understand what your customers are telling you. Ask questions and pay attention to the answer, especially if it involves serving your customer base better. Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
- Educate and even learn together, the changes required that are affecting your customer such as buying online, virtual meetings, etc. Dig deep and ask “What changes are your customers experiencing when doing business with your company?” Make every effort to make it easy for your customer to continue doing business with you. Foster both new and old relationships.
- Adopt an attitude of patience. The pandemic has added additional problems to doing business, including personnel shortages, supply chain delays, and short tempers in customers. Be patient with your difficult customers and with your own employees; try to maintain the mantra that things will get better.
Here are some ideas for maintaining and growing your customer base:
- Communication: Send monthly newsletters or updates. They don’t have to be lengthy, but make sure they contain useful information and aren’t just a “sales pitch.”
- Utilize the right kind of social media for your business. Stay connected utilizing informative posts. Of course, include timely specials, new product introductions and customer’s referral incentives. (Watch for my blog on November 10, 2021 on how to do this the right way!)
- Set up a calendar for connecting with your customers:
- Contact them a month or two prior to when they purchased from you last year.
- Plan and implement email marketing for different holidays.
- Wish your customers happy birthday, anniversary or send simple emails on their important dates.
- Thank them! Handwritten thank-you notes, for purchases over a certain amount, are always a great way to retain customers and acknowledge their purchase.
- If possible, deliver a holiday gift to your top 10 customers or clients.
Maintaining your current customer base can save you time and money, while growing your business. Keep in mind these few things and as always, contact us here at Collin SBDC for more information in creating and keeping a viable business in today’s crazy world.
If you are interested in a few software options to help you run your business, here are some links for further information.
*Please note: We do not recommend or endorse any of these companies. The information is given as an example of products available for small businesses. We recommend that you perform your due diligence by reviewing the software and the development company to decide if they meet your needs. We do not endorse or receive any benefit for any of these programs:
Email marketing software options:
- Constant Contact https://www.constantcontact.com/account-home
- Emma https://myemma.com
- Mail Chimp https://mailchimp.com/email-marketing/
- Robly Email Marketing: https://app.robly.com
Customer Relationship Management Software (CRM):
For additional resources on retaining your customer base for your small business, or for other information that can help you grow your business in the post-pandemic-world, please contact us at the Small Business Development Center – SBDC – serving Collin and Rockwall Counties, Texas.
Blog post by: Karen Raymond