21 Mar Repeat Business: Small Customer Base, Big Impact
Having a small customer base is not always a bad thing. If anything, this could make your service better because you can focus on the clientele that you have. In effect, this will usher a sense of loyalty among your customers. The key is repeat business. This is the process wherein the company successfully persuades current customers to buy again. This way, no matter how short your client list is, the business is still going strong.
Some small businesses are so concerned with getting new customers that they forget the old and current ones. They spend so much on marketing to entice new people. But then, as new customers come in, you also lose the old ones. So basically, you are maintaining the same number of customers a day or in a month. But then, if you nurture your relationship with a smaller base, there is a possibility that these loyal customers will entice their friends to do business with you because they have had such great experiences in your store or company.
Also, a customer who goes back to your store means he or she is satisfied with the product or service he or she received. This is a great indication that you are doing things right. Attracting new customers is well and good. But a business would have better ammunition to attract more people if they already have a solid customer base.
Here are some of the ways you can maximize a small customer base.
If you have a small customer base, you better make sure you keep what little you have. And since there are a number of them, you better satisfy each and every one of them. The best way to do that is through personalized service.
Get to know your customers one by one. When they come into the store, you have to be able to call them by their first names—or even nicknames. Ask them about their spouse or their children. This way, the customers will feel like they are just your family members. Also, you have to be able to gauge their mood. Sometimes, if customers are in a foul mood, they are not chatty. So you should know how to deal with them as well. This way, customers, no matter how they feel, they will know that your store is a safe haven for them—either to chat about life or to be inconspicuous.
If you have employees, teach them to be friendly with the customers as well. Allow them to get to know them so it will be easier for the employees to get the customers what they really need. Conversations with customers will also allow you to improve your product or services. They will give you honest feedback because they are already comfortable with you and your store / company. If they don’t offer it to you, you can ask them yourself. You just have to tell them that being honest with your company is a way to improve service.
Ask for referrals and offer incentives
Since you already have a close relationship with your customers, it wouldn’t be a big deal for you to ask them for referrals. But if you think that doing so will feel like you are taking advantage of the “relationship,” then why don’t you put in some incentives for referrals.
You can offer discounts to clients who can bring in new customers that buy a product or pay for a service. Or you can give them a gift in the form of an item or a gift certificate of your store. This way, the amount of the gift certificate will just get back to your store.
Also, allow your loyal customers to dangle something to their friends. If the customers get something from referring somebody to the store, also give an incentive to the new customer who came in with a loyal one.
Get back to your customers through emails. Ask them how they are doing and if they were satisfied with the product or service they got from your company. If you can, send a personalized email rather than an automated one. This way, the customer will feel a bit compelled to answer the email knowing you put some effort into it and since it was personally addressed to her or him.
A follow-up communication will make the customer feel important. At the same time, you may even get valuable information from the response.
Make business accessible
If your resources permit it, it would be great if you can offer something more for very loyal customers. Perhaps for a certain group that has reached a certain amount of purchases from your store, you could give them a VIP membership. One treat that would attract customers to become a VIP member is a free delivery. So for high-value customers, you can offer to drop off their goods at their doorsteps. Just make sure a set of guidelines is in place, lest, you’d be delivering goods every day even if they were not worth that much.
But if you do offer this type of service, make sure to remind the customer that he or she is missed in the store so she could go back—preferably with a referral in tow.
Properly deal with customer complaints
No matter how well you manage your company, you cannot satisfy everybody. There will always be people who complain about your product or service. Sometimes, it’s also the company’s fault. You cannot always deliver the best possible product or service every time, all the time. You will always have your off days; and for products, manufacturing sometimes fails. So be prepared to handle customer complaints.
First, you have to listen to the complaint. Don’t be defensive right away. Allow the customer to speak uninterrupted. Record everything so there will be a paper trail. Check out the receipt and the product. Then of course, find a way to solve the problem. You could offer to replace the product or have it repaired at least. Also, don’t forget to apologize. After the complaint has been settled, try to send another apology email. In that email, ask for an update on how the product is doing now and if the customer is already satisfied.
See? Having a small customer base is not really a bad thing. You just need to know how to maximize this and make sure there will be repeat business.