This article originally appeared on Office Depot
You started your small business because you're passionate about what you do and the products or services you provide for the community. This enthusiasm is often what separates small companies from massive corporations that sell similar products with hundreds or thousands of workers.
Apple CEO Steve Jobs once said, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.” Show your customers this is true and make them love your company as much as you do with these five tips:
1. Make customer service a priority.
The most essential step toward making customers fall in love with your brand is establishing and nurturing good relationships with them. According to studies by the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, 80 percent of U.S. consumers are willing to pay more for a product if they can count on better customer service. Likewise, RightNow found that as many as 89 percent of customers in 2011 began doing business with a competitor due to poor customer service experiences.
If you work hard to treat your customers right, not only will your chances of retaining them increase, but you'll show that you care about more than making sales. People put a lot of value on how personal a brand is. When they have questions, is there an actual person available to talk to? Do representatives address them by name? These small factors can play a major role in how your customers feel they're being treated.
2. Emphasize customer appreciation over pressure.
One rule of thumb that all business owners may follow is never put too much pressure on customers when selling your products. Patience is key to ensuring that consumers feel appreciated and valued as they learn more about your products and make their buying decisions.
3. Implement loyalty programs.
Showing appreciation to your frequent customers is crucial to retaining them. Competitors are everywhere – give customers a reason to stay with your business. Start by creating a loyalty program that offers discounts to your best customers. As part of the program, throw exclusive parties or events for your top clients to develop relationships. The more people feel like they're a part of an exclusive group of customers, the stronger the connections they'll have with your business.
4. Pinpoint areas that need improvement.
Know which aspects of your business, if any, are causing weaknesses. Keeping track of and analyzing metrics makes it easier to find areas for improvement. For example, measure how much traffic your website and social media pages are getting and how often customers are engaging with your marketing campaigns. It may also be helpful to gauge the success of your business's customer service by asking clients to fill out surveys. Once any weak spots are identified, you can take action, whether this means updating your marketing efforts or hiring more customer service representatives.
5. Keep customers in the know.
According to Help Scout, it takes 12 positive service experiences to make up for one unresolved negative experience. The trust that's destroyed takes a lot of time and effort to re-establish. Maintain this trust by being honest about any changes or issues. If there are problems with your products or services, alert customers immediately. If they're affected by these changes before you're able to notify them, trust will be diminished and you may lose customers. Even if there are positive updates with your products, your clients are already accustomed to what they know. Inform them of all large-scale changes, good or bad, to protect the trust and relationships that define your small business.