In today’s digital age, increasing customer loyalty should be at the top of every small business’ marketing strategy. Don’t get us wrong, acquiring new customers is important too, but your loyal customers will be your best assets.
#1 Start with the Golden Rule
This should go without saying, which is why we wanted to make it number one in this post. It’s something our mothers, fathers, teachers, and other influential adults have taught us our whole lives. Treat others how you want to be treated — with kindness, respect, and compassion.
In retail, the same type of theory applies: Treat your customers how you want to be treated when you’re the customer. Long before you were a business owner, you were, and still are a customer to many other businesses. Therefore, you already have a pretty good idea of what the customer side of you expects, likes and dislikes about other businesses you frequent. You know the reasons why you always shop at a particular store over another.
#2 Communication, Communication, Communication
Communication is another one that should go without saying, but we’re going to say it anyways because it’s important and will be a factor in all of the following steps.
Customers want to keep in touch with your business and know what’s going on, especially the loyal ones. It makes them feel like they are a part of a community, rather than just shelling out money for products every time they come into your store. Let them help you define what a positive customer experience means to them. There are formal and informal ways to go about this, which we will go into more detail later, but we want to emphasize that opening up communication with your customers is a big part of increasing customer loyalty.
#3 Empower your Customers
It’s safe to say that every business owner knows more than the average customer about their specific industry or vertical. Customers look to you for advice about products or services. In their eyes, you are the expert. After all, that is why they are coming to you in the first place.
Don’t hold your knowledge hostage. Share it with your customers and showcase not only your expertise, but show that you’re invested in their success. For example, say you own a flower shop or nursery, share your knowledge about which blooms are best for which season in your region through an email or blog post.
#4 Pricing for Transparency
Customers are pretty intuitive and can often see through the facade and shortcomings of a business. As a business owner, you want to make sure you put your best foot forward and are as open and honest about your business as possible.
A new catchphrase you may have heard that relates to this is ‘radical transparency,’ and a lot of companies are implementing it as part of their marketing strategy. Simply put, it means the company has made a conscious decision to openly share business insights and data, take ownership of flaws, and acknowledge details you normally wouldn’t share.
By creating this transparent approach, they found that their customers were more open to paying more to support the brand. A similar approach can easily be applied to traditional brick-and-mortar stores as well. When you put items on sale or clearance, let the customers know the value they are getting. For example, if you mark an item down 30 percent, let the customers know how that affects your business, margins, or bottom line.
#5 Hold Employees Accountable & Make Them Part of the Mission
While you may own the business, your employees are the face of it. They interact with customers the most, therefore, and have a direct impact on increasing customer loyalty and creating a positive customer experience. As a business owner, it is your job to hold them accountable to a high standard of creating a positive experience for customers.
One of the best ways to do that is to get them involved. Have a meeting. Have conversations and brainstorming sessions. Open the dialogue and find out what it means to them to have a positive customer experience and what they can do to re-create that for your customers. Combine that with your expertise and develop a standard and basic steps of service that employees are required to follow.
This will help create consistency across the board and your customers will come to know what to expect when they walk through the doors. Customers, like some people, don’t necessarily like change, so nothing says comfort to them like consistency.