Successful small businesses depend on customers who return.
Such customers form your core audience. They buy regularly and as research notes, they buy more than the more casual customer or the one-time customer. Yes, their regular purchase may be less but, over time, they are your stars.
Second, your returning customers are most likely be your ambassadors. They spread the word about you, your business, and the goods and services you offer. Such voluntary endorsements are some of the greatest marketing you can have. It is trusted and relied upon even though we may not know the people providing the comments.
So how can you develop such a relationship with your customers?
It obviously begins with offering products and services that customers want and doing do at a reasonable price. Notice I don’t say it must be the cheapest price, just reasonable. Customers will pay more for quality and service.
A good deal and good service are very important but there are other aspects of the customer-relation process that will encourage someone to return.
Customers appreciate it when you know them by name and when you know what they like. I have a favorite coffee shop where, unless I tell them otherwise, they know my drink of choice.
One think that upsets your long-standing customer is if they feel you just “nickel and dime” them to death. Set your price and avoid the add-ons. If something small comes up that would be a small additional charge, it may be in your best interest to forego it. This is a fine line as you also can give away the business if you aren’t careful.
These customers are also ones who you can encourage with customer loyalty programs.
Finally, remember that every employee in your organization plays a role in developing these customers. You can do everything perfect but one staff member can tear it all down quickly.
Valued customers are key to your small-business success. Take the time and the steps you develop these ambassadors of your business.
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Glenn Muske is an independent expert on rural small business, working as GM Consulting – Your partner in achieving small business success. He provides consulting, and writes articles for county extension agents and newspapers across North Dakota. Previously, he was the Rural and Agribusiness Enterprise Development Specialist at the North Dakota State University Extension Service – Center for Community Vitality.