The least expensive way to achieve loyalty in your customers is through friendly, personal service. So who are your most loyal customers? What are you currently doing to retain these customers?
Although acquiring new customers keeps your company growing, keeping your existing customers is essential to success. Research shows that repeat customers spend 67% more than new customers.
In addition, attracting a new customer actually costs the typical small business seven to nine times as much as keeping an existing one. So ask yourself this question: How can you create an exceptional experience for your customers so they keep coming back?
In his book, Entrepreneurship & Small Business Planning, Norman Scarborough recommends asking the following four questions to your customers:
I recently had dinner at a nice steakhouse in downtown Calgary. Although the meal was very good, the one thing that impressed me was that a week after I had dined at this restaurant, I received a card in the mail. The card itself had a nice picture on the front along with the company’s logo, and the back of the card had a handwritten note from the Manager simply stating “Thank you so much for dining with us recently!”
Now I remembered that after our meal, the Manager approached our table to ask how our experience was, and if they could have done anything better. I remember filling out a short questionnaire and writing my address down. A simple, yet powerful way of connecting with customers, and yes, if you asked me for dining recommendations in Calgary, I would recommend you visit this restaurant.
Can you think of a recent time you had an exceptional dining experience at your favourite restaurant? Would you definitely recommend this restaurant to your family or friends?
Although you may list several things describing your dining experience, I would venture to say the one thing you remember the most is how the restaurant’s service and experience made you feel. Connecting with your customers on an emotional level is a powerful way to build strong relationships and turn your clients into advocates. This becomes possible when small companies like your local restaurant start to focus on the “little things” that matter to their customers.
Loyal customers are more profitable; they spend more than other customers, promote your products and services through word of mouth, and ultimately grow your bottom line.
Create emotional connections with your customers by adding a personal touch to your business practices. Call your customers by name. Sincerely thank them for their business. Ask for feedback and keep in regular touch with all your existing clients. And yes, make a habit of sending thank-you cards so they remember you and keep coming back. Sending thank-you cards to your customers is a way of telling them you care about their business and want them to come back.
For powerful ideas on providing exceptional customer service, I recommend you read: Inside the Magic Kingdom, Seven Keys to Disney’s Success, by Tom Connellan.
 Richard Stone, “Retaining Customers Requires Constant Contact”, Small Business Computing, January 11, 2005