Small-business owners can often focus too much of their attention on gaining new customers, while missing out on some great opportunities to do more business with their old ones and keeping them as repeat customers.
People who already know and trust your brand can be important brand advocates as they’re more likely to promote your business via word-of-mouth. If they have had a good experience, they’ll keep coming back, are much more likely to refer their friends and family and make for one of the most efficient sources of ongoing income.
Ultimately, winning repeat business comes down to a little common sense and a lot of creativity. Here are five ways a small business can keep customers coming back for more.
Get social media savvy
The internet is saturated with content, so when it comes to connecting with your customers via social media, it’s all about differentiating yourself. Start with using social media as a customer service platform – reply to customer comments and questions and communicate news and specials. Feature your most loyal customers and share tips you have learnt as a small-business owner.
Larger companies have the luxury of being able to dedicate one person or a team of people to handle social media, but for solo business owners, that’s not an option. You can save a lot of time by consolidating your social media efforts with tools like Hootsuite and Sprout Social. You can manage several social networks in one place, schedule posts, and track the performance of your posts, making a little effort go a long way.
Connect on a personal level
There’s a lot of influence in a personalised note, whether it be handwritten or digital. Customers want to feel understood and appreciated, especially when they are loyal to your brand. Send thank-you notes to loyal customers when they’ve been with you for a year or when they leave a review.
Send birthday emails or personalise incentives, such as discounts, or credits for customers who you haven’t seen in awhile. When a customer feels appreciated, they are more likely to return and more likely to refer others, which ensures repeat business and steady cashflow.
Make payments easy
At the end of each job comes payment, and you don’t want to end on a sour note by making it a hassle for your customer. In today’s digital age, businesses who don’t accept credit and debit are few and far in between. In fact, debit and credit card are by far people’s favourite way to make a payment. According to a 2014 study done by the Federal Reserve’s Cash Products Office, 65 per cent of people would rather pay by debit or credit card than any other form of payment.
Small businesses can open the door to more opportunity by ensuring they’re offering the end-to-end experience their customers demand, and by making it as hassle-free as possible. Ensuring that your customers can pay easily and immediately via credit or debit card is also a positive for your bottom line, as it creates a process for consistent cashflow.
Transparency is key with billing
Use simple online and mobile tools like Invoice2go to create professional, fully itemised invoices complete with your company’s logo. By creating your invoice on the spot, your customers can see exactly what they’re paying for, and ask you questions while the work is fresh in their mind. This level of open, upfront communication can go a long way for building trust and repeat business.
Do good business
It’s been famously said, “A satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all.” If a customer gives you business, treating them right and instilling trust will go further than anything else to build genuine, long-term loyalty.
Attracting new customers is always important, but it’s only half the battle. Keeping them coming back will help you build consistent cashflow over time. It takes research, experimentation and willingness to adapt to new technologies to keep profits coming in. It also takes treating customers like real people, not just numbers, which in the end, is all anyone really wants.
Chris Strode, Founder, www.invoice.2go.com