Just about everywhere, you see businesses pulling out all the stops to make sure their customers keep coming back once they’re in the door. Of course, for each business, the “extra mile” is going to be slightly different, depending on the sector, but the overall methods of improving loyalty don’t really change.

If you’re starting a new business, and you’re wondering where to start for building customer loyalty, remember the 80/20 ratio: 20% of your customers are going to be your repeat business 80% of the time, and can make the difference between a great month and “just barely making it.”

So it’s up to you to really keep that core 20% of regulars. Here are some tips to get you thinking:

1- Communication
If you’re in the auto repair or tune-up business, sending out a small postcard reminding previous customers that their car needs an oil change by offering a discount on that oil change is bound to get them back in the door, especially if your service was top-notch. On the other hand, your business might be a retail clothing store. An opt-in email list is a great way to let customers know about monthly and seasonal sales. Some businesses even give out things like magnets with their business information printed on the front.
You should also set up social media pages and let people know about it after each transaction. That way you can interact with your customers more closely and give people more “live” updates on what’s going on with your business. Whatever you choose to do, communication is key.

2- Give Top-Notch Customer Service
This involves being willing to listen to customer concerns and complaints and find a way to resolve them. Let customers know how to reach you, whether by phone, in person, or email, and it’s likely they’ll take you up on that knowledge if something’s not right.

3- Anticipate Customers’ Needs
This doesn’t mean you have to be telepathic. All you have to do is get to know your customers like a doorman might. If, for instance, you run a convenience store, and you see them purchasing something regularly, like an iced coffee and they pick specific flavors, you might say to them, “I see you really like our iced coffees. Have you tried this new flavor mixture? It’s right up your alley.” Also, handing out coupons at the register for those coffees is a surefire way to keep them coming back. This shows you’re thinking of them and what they might want and need.

4- Don’t Forget Employee Loyalty
You might not realize this, but customers see how your employees are treated. They can’t help but notice it, especially if the employees at the register or out on the floor are always genuinely upbeat and happy. There’s a difference between a genuine smile and a fake smile. If you’re a great boss who listens to your employees’ concerns, plus gives great perks to employees working there, such as paid time off, employee discounts and a living wage, your employees will not only commit themselves further to you and their work, but they’ll pass that caring attitude to your customers as well. When the customers see that the employees are genuinely happy to be there, they feel the result as well, and they’re more likely to come back in.

5- Provide Customer Incentives
Think about the stores you’ve been in that offer certain incentives and perks such as frequent buyer coupons, punch cards and so on. This would be a great avenue for you to take in order to keep that core 20% of your customers coming back in the door. If you have a membership card program, you can offer 10-20% off any item in your store, and have special deals during part of the year for those members. They may already love what your business provides them, but having that membership card keeps them coming in the door. After all, who doesn’t love saving a certain percentage off something at the counter?

6- Promote Product Awareness
Keeping your staff well-informed about the products you sell may seem completely obvious, but this empowers them to approach customers with suggestive sales. This is especially important if you have regular customers and you know what they purchase. Keeping their favorite items in stock is key to keeping that core bunch of people coming in. If, for some reason, an item is discontinued and you can no longer order it, find something similar to that item as quickly as possible, and let your customers know about the change. They might be disappointed that that item is no longer available, but they’ll appreciate your effort in finding something to fill the gap.

7- Build a Reputation for Reliability
If you say a service will be rendered on a certain time and day, do your best to make that happen. If you say something will be delayed, do something to make up for the delay, like offer them a certain percentage off the item or service in question.

These are just seven tips to build customer loyalty. Keep in mind what your clientele is, what kinds of items they’re likely to buy and tailor your customer incentives, customer service and everything else that would go into keeping that core 20% of customers coming in the door. Every effort you make to keep your customers happy is worth it.

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