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Creating loyal customers

Provided by Business Partners Ltd, South Africa's leading investor in SMEs


Applause.jpgMany small businesses spend a lot of time, effort and money into growing their customer base. Yes, this is crucial to your livelihood, but how much time do you spend looking after the customers that consistently come back to you?

Attracting a large volume of clients and customers with flashy advertising and discounting should not necessarily be your ultimate. No matter what gimmicks you use, numbers can dwindle depending on the season, the economy and what your competitors are doing.

So why not focus at least some of these resources on doing good business with your loyal customers?

Keeping the customer loyal

Consumers are a fickle bunch and your patrons will vary from bargain-hunters, once-off buyers and those who just had some time to kill. While you should treat all your customers as potentially loyal ones, make sure the old faithful are made to feel extra special.

Make it personal: Retaining someone's business can be as simple as remembering their name when they walk through the door. People appreciate being valued as people first and customers second. The personal touch can also persuade the first-time patron who may be watching, to come back again.

Stay visible: Even if you rarely work directly with your clients, make sure that you are always available for queries they may have. A business owner who is down-to-earth and values the interaction he has with customers, goes a long way in retaining clientele. Make an effort to remain visible at all times and chat to customers on a regular basis.

Ask them what they want: The steadfast customers are the people who can and should influence your buying and/or service offering decisions. Nothing will make them feel better than contacting them (by phone or e-mail) for their input and showing them how much you value it.

Keep track of them: If you haven't seen or been contacted by a customer for a while, find out why? Have they taken their business elsewhere? If so, why and what can you do to get them back? If they just haven't had the need for your services for a while, this kind of interest can make sure they come back to you when the need does arise.

It's worth repeating that it's not only your loyal customers who deserve to be treated this way, as anyone buying your product or using your service for the first time, is potentially a long-term client. Whether he is a first-timer or a regular, the rule is that a happy customer will keep coming back.

Source: About.com

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