Business Calcium Blog

Build (and Maintain) Customer Loyalty

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It is said that before you criticize a man, you should learn to walk a mile in his shoes. There’s a double meaning to that saying when it comes to owning a small business. One relates to actually understanding your own business needs, while the other relates to understanding your customer’s business – a key factor in what will help you maintain a long lasting relationship with them.

I have been a small business owner for almost 10 years now and my company, Mighty Milestones, is a marketing and promotional products business. On the promotional products side of the business, it is extremely competitive as promotional products can be bought anywhere online nowadays. However, there are some important things I’ve done to stay competitive and grow Mighty Milestones over the years:

1. Differentiate Yourself, Differentiate Your Customer.
First take the time to understand your customer’s business needs. What do they offer? Who are their competitors? Once you have the knowledge, help your customer understand how you can bring value into their organization and how you can positively impact their business.

2. Assimilate Yourself as Part of the Team.
Become their team-player and provide solutions that will be relevant and beneficial to your customer. Get involved and familiar with their marketing strategy. Think of your customers often, even when you are not working with them at that time. There are many times when I’ve come across a fun and new promotional item that I thought the customer would like and forwarded the information their way. The customer may not be looking for promotional items right then but they sure do think of me when the time is right.

3. Stay Competitive, Not Complacent.
Just because they have been a long-time customer doesn’t mean they are loyal to you. Appreciate your customer’s loyalty by continuing to give them the service they deserve. This is a common pitfall for small business owners and one that can be avoided altogether. Be true to your customers and own up to your fiduciary duty of providing them the best price or service ALL THE TIME. I’ve had customers change jobs or move into a new position and they either brought me along onto their new job or made sure that I was introduced to their successor.

4. Look Out for Your Customer’s Best Interest.
You have to be honest with yourself and with your customer: is this service or product the best thing for your customer even if it means you won’t benefit from it this time? This speaks volumes of your integrity to your customer and that goes a long way. I’ve often told customers to rethink their decision when I felt like it was rushed or pressured because of circumstances. If you can provide a moment of clarity for your customer, they will thank you for it and it will be the onset of their loyalty to you.

5. Get Personal.
Take the time to know your customer personally and understand them as a person. People are most comfortable doing business with people they trust and you want to be one of those people! Send them a birthday card on their birthday or congratulate them on their new baby. It doesn’t have to be all about business all the time. Every holiday season, I send out homemade fudge and cookies to my customers. I take the time to wrap them up and put a pretty bow on top to let my customers know that I appreciate them. They seem to like receiving them because every year, I get a request or two wondering when they’ll be sent out!

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