Keeping Loyal Customers

Customer retention is key for today’s businesses

Customer retention is on the minds of small and medium-sized businesses everywhere. With rising business costs it’s becoming more and more expensive to attract new customers so the focus has shifted to find innovative approaches to retaining existing clients.

Studies from the U.S. Small Business Administration and U.S. Chamber of Commerce have found that acquiring new customers can cost as much as five to seven times more than simply retaining existing customers. The fact that customer profitability increases over the life of a retained customer are an incentive for businesses to allocate more resources to sharpening their customer retention strategies.

Set customer expectations

A first step to building better customer retention is to set client expectations early. The earlier the better. A great way to foster loyal customers is to “under promise and over deliver” on the expectations you originally laid out.

By setting expectations early and slightly lower than you can provide, you can eliminate uncertainty as to the level of service you need to offer to ensure your clients are happy. Clients tend to remember negative experiences.

Be the expert

Small and medium-sized businesses are becoming more and more dependent on services to run their operation. No matter what industry you are in if you can be the expert in your particular field, you will likely retain more customers.

Become your customers’ trusted advisorBecoming a trusted source builds a relationship that leads to dependency. Your customers will trust you, rely on you to give the best advice, and recognize you as an integral part of their business success.

Build trust through relationships

The saying goes, you do business with people you trust. Trust is essential in business, and building relationships with clients will foster that trust.

Cultivating shared values means taking an interest in your clients and their business. Do some research on their business, understand how you play a role in their day-to-day activities, and use this information to strengthen your relationship.

Simply providing a service is no longer sufficient.  As competition grows you need to start building shared values with clients and showing you take an interest in them and their success.

Go above and beyond

Going the extra mile for your customers is an easy way to build strong relationships.  Often, companies overlook how important this is. As a service business, you have countless opportunities to wow your clients and transcend the minimum.

By doing this, you can build some serious long-term loyalty. If your clients know you are prepared to go above and beyond, they will stay with you when competitors start knocking on their door.

Implement customer feedback surveys

Customer turnover can be avoided by simply listening to your customers. Customer feedback surveys are invaluable for learning how your service is performing in relation to your clients’ expectations.

By Anne Capps Executive Vice President – American Receivable

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