Achieving lasting success as a business is something that requires a long-term focus, and cannot be achieved by any company that becomes complacent. To keep succeeding, and to ensure each passing year is marked by greater success, you will need to learn lessons, show versatility, and solve problems. More than this, you will need to be able to keep serving the needs of your customers, as they are the lifeblood of any business.
The business world is competitive, and getting to the top – and staying there – means you will need to ensure your customers aren’t peeled away by your competitors. Ideally, you’ll keep adding new customers too, but it’s important to build from a solid base. So it is worth bearing in mind one question above all others: what do I owe to my customers, and how can I keep delivering so that they remain my customers?
Businesses worldwide have been able to dramatically scale up what they can offer in recent years, as shipping options have continued to improve and the ability to deliver services (and even some products) remotely has grown. Increasingly, businesses are finding that they can promise the earth, and usually deliver it. However, there are always going to be times where things don’t quite go as planned, and when that happens you need to be straight with your customers.
If a courier doesn’t deliver to your customer when they said they would, they’ve let both of you down. However, talking about how hurt you are isn’t going to make the customer any happier. An apology from you and an explanation of what you’re going to do to stop it happening again will be much more effective in this case. And, of course, a goodwill gesture such as a gift card or similar will also help. A customer who feels taken care of will move on from simple errors and they will keep coming back if you own any mistakes.
The most important marketing any business can call upon is word of mouth. This is best achieved by having a customer base who will speak up for you whenever the opportunity arises. Offering excellent products and customer services will help you in this regard, but as Deepak Agarwal points out, you really can’t do too much to retain existing customers. Rewarding repeat customers with better deals and occasional freebies is simply smart business.
You can start a dedicated loyalty program, or simply have a giveaway that kicks in after a set number of orders. Whatever way you choose to do it, showing your customers that their repeat custom matters to you will stick in their minds – and when their friends are looking for a service or a product that you can supply, your company will come up in conversation. Showing loyalty and honesty with your customers will pay off, and continue to deliver long into the future.
When a customer has kept doing business with you over the course of years, there is little doubt that, even if they received faulty goods or insufficient service on one occasion, they’d likely keep coming back. That’s the nature of brand loyalty. And yet, it’s a good idea to never test that loyalty because complacency is poisonous. When a loyal customer orders from you, it’s a good idea to make each order as special as the first – or the 100th. Some businesses will throw in gifts like candy, or handwritten thankyou notes; this is a good idea, but just making sure the order is bang on time and in perfect condition is better still.
It is likely that at some stage, other companies will come along in your niche, and look to disrupt the market by offering lower prices on the same products and services. You can certainly look at how to match those prices, but if you’ve done right by your customers in the past, you’ll keep hold of a lot of them just through sheer reliability. The businesses we see today which have been around for a century or more recognize the value of return customers. So should you.
By continuing to deliver the best service possible, you can be confident of retaining customers over a prolonged period. Keeping in contact with them and showing them what their custom means to you can create a customer for life, so when you’re making business decisions, always make them with your repeat customers in mind. You won’t go far wrong in business if you aim to keep the loyalty of your best customers.