Loyalty is the very heart of small business success. Loyalty is what makes a repeat customer and what it takes to earn a new one. Keeping customers loyal should be a major focus of every small business because repeat customers don’t only bring their business, they refer new customers, and new customers can become repeat customers. Today we’re sharing some helpful tips for fostering customer loyalty in your small business:

Customer Service Really Is That Important
Most consumers prefer small business to larger operations based on customer experience alone. It’s not possible for small businesses to compete with the pricing logistics of bigger operations, but they can provide a higher level of service. Generally speaking, small businesses are more responsive and better able to understand and answer to customer needs. Since the majority of a person’s buying/service experience is grounded in how they feel they were treated, small business should focus their efforts on making the experience as positive as possible. Awesome customer service should be a top priority for small businesses and a key component to building customer loyalty.

Know Your Customers
Be personable. Address your customers by name when possible. Be polite and attentive. Keep track of purchasing habits and service dates, using that information to offer discounts and incentives on related services. When you know what makes your customers tick, you are better able to anticipate their needs. We talked about watching your analytics and tailoring your email marketing blasts in a previous post this is a good place to put it into action. Loyalty programs have also shown good returns, offering discounts and incentives for repeat business never hurts.

Resolve Problems As Quickly As Possible
Complaints and issues are inevitable. It’s impossible to pitch a perfect game 100% of the time, the same is true in business. You will have complaints, there will be dissatisfaction. Face it head on and do your best to resolve them as fairly and as quickly as possible. Doing so will earn you a good reputation and go a long way in the eyes of the customer.

Follow Up
Make it a point to contact your customers in some way following your visit or service appointment to let them know you valued the chance to work for them and wish to do it again. A simple “thank you” goes a long way. Keep in touch and be sure to keep your business connected with the customer.

Loyalty Programs
Consider an incentive based loyalty program when thinking about ways to encourage customer loyalty. These tools can include frequent buyer clubs, loyalty discounts, punch cards, points-based rewards, and more. Loyalty programs can do a lot to promote customer retention and motivate repeat business. They can also provide valuable information if registration is required of the customer to participate.  Keep it simple and it will be a lot more effective

Small businesses are not always able to compete with larger operations on pricing and logistics alone, which is why earning loyalty and valuing customer experience. Commit yourself and your business to those ideals by incorporating these loyalty-building tips into your everyday approach.

For more insights on marketing strategy that actually works for small business, subscribe to the FreshLime Newsletterhere. Connect with Jay Bean, Founder of FreshLime and Small Business Marketing Expert on LinkedIn and Twitter