You might have heard about Facebook’s recent announcement that it will be changing its newsfeed algorithm to prioritize content from “friends, family and groups.” This is likely to mean businesses will see a significant decrease in organic reach on social media and higher advertising costs. While there is a lot of buzz around how this will impact marketing for small businesses (you can read more here about whether you need social media at all), it’s important to remember that existing customers are still your most valuable resource!
Nurturing existing relationships can be your best marketingAccording to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, on average, loyal customers are worth up to 10 times as much as their first purchase. That’s incredible. Loyal and happy customers not only give you repeat business, but can be your best advertising through word-of-mouth endorsement. It’s more important than ever to nurture your existing customer relationships.
So, how does one go about maintaining loyalty so that existing customers continue to be your best resource? It’s actually very simple and you likely already know the answer. Unfortunately, in my experience with many different businesses over the years, these basic practices can often go by the wayside – or at least to the bottom of the list – due to other vital demands on our time.Here are seven simple things to do starting today to keep your existing customers happy – and, therefore, loyal:
Genuinely interact with your customers.
This means building an emotional connection whenever possible with your customers and being authentic when you make contact. Go beyond basic customer service. Actually talk with your customers. Maybe have a cup of coffee or lunch with your client. Develop a real relationship that isn’t just about sales – it’s about the customer as a human being.
Listen to what your customers have to say.
Study after study after study shows you cannot have enough feedback from your customers. Listening to what your customers say can provide valuable insight on areas that need improvement, as well as areas that are going well. Ask for input at the end of a project. Consider sending a survey email. It’s vital to recognize that input from your existing customers is imperative to allowing you to implement the right changes for the better.
We all have experience with miscommunication and how it can negatively impact a relationship. Remember to communicate your policies and any changes clearly and in a timely fashion. Sometimes spoken information can be misremembered or forgotten, so perhaps use email to keep a trail of important matters. And sometimes tone can be misunderstood in email, so it may be better to speak in person about sensitive issues.
Did you make a mistake? Are you running behind schedule? Don’t try to hide it. Be open, honest and transparent. Customers appreciate a proactive and transparent approach.
Follow through on your word.
Trust is not only one of the most important elements of any relationship, it might actually be THE most important. By following through on your word, you are showing your customers that you are loyal to them and that they are important to you.
Offer kindness and gratitude.
Do you often show kindness and gratitude to your customers? Often just a simple “thank you for your business” will go a long way, but always go the extra mile to show your appreciation. Check out these fun customer appreciation ideas for inspiration.
Remember that keeping an existing customer is much easier than getting a new one. And customer relationships, like all relationships, require maintenance, but it is time well spent. So put some of these pieces back at the top of your list of marketing efforts. I’m confident it will be a win-win for both you and your customers!