As a small business owner, one of the most important relationships you will form is the one you make with your customers.
In the beginning, it makes sense to you to go the extra mile to gain their business. Added incentives, like discounted work or services will often lure new customers into the door, but what are you doing to keep them engaged? Oftentimes we take existing customers for granted, instead choosing to continue to court new customers.
Existing customers cost more money to keep, we tell ourselves. They can become high maintenance and may not spend as much as a new customer, we say. While this may be true of some, what you don’t want is for your existing customers to feel as if they have been dumped or neglected for “new blood.”
Your existing customers need to know that they are valued and that their business is appreciated. If you haven’t seen them in a while, a well placed email with an incentive can get you and your business back on the radar. Above all else, what keeps people returning to a particular business is great customer service and a great product or service. You already have one, so use these steps to ensure your customers old and new, receive the type of service that will make them repeat customers.
1. Never over promise – while we all want to see our customers happy, never offer them something you can’t deliver. Make sure to give your customers a realistic sense of what you can do for them, and keep the lines of communication open.
2. Honesty is the best policy – Always be honest with your customers. Misrepresenting yourself or your business, overcharging for services or products and otherwise being dishonest with customers is one of the fastest ways to find yourself, and your business on the rocks. People are more likely to work with a business they feel has treated them fairly, so make sure your policies and pricing reflect this.
3. Be available – Customers should be able to reach you quickly with questions and concerns. All businesses encounter a customer who is unhappy with a product or the service they received. Being unavailable to field questions and complaints can compound the problem and create a situation where the customer takes their displeasure public via social media. These days a bad review can haunt you for more than a few days and more than a few can ruin your business.
While great customer service has always been important to maintaining your business, this is a great time of year to reach out to your existing customers and let you know they are appreciated.