As a small business owner, one of your greatest competitive advantages is your size: you are nimble, reactive and, perhaps most importantly, able to provide a personal level of service larger companies can only dream of offering. While you may not be able to compete on resources or reach, you can make your customers feel truly valued, and put yourself in a position to win every time.
When you want to grow a successful business, making customers happy is much more important than the sale in front of you. If you can turn happy customers into repeat customers, you’ll start to see your business thrive. Here are a few simple strategies that can enhance your customer interactions, make them feel valued, and keep them coming back.
Every business strives to build trust. From the biggest multinational organisation to the smallest freelance business, a good reputation hangs on it. While trust in big businesses can fluctuate, small businesses are in a unique position to capitalise and build trust with a loyal base of dependable customers.
Communicating with honesty and transparency from the outset is a great way to establish trust. You don’t need to promise perfection – most customers are aware that’s an unreasonable expectation. Instead, to make your customers’ lives easier, share with them your goal, touching on timeline, costs, and how you’ll deal with potential hurdles.
But remember, when trust can be lost as easily as it’s gained, it’s important to treat every interaction like it’s your first.
Don’t stop at first impressions
In all walks of life we’re told about the importance of making a strong first impression, and business is no different. Not only is it important to be punctual, polite and professional the first time you interact with a customer, but every time thereafter too. It’s the best way to demonstrate that they’re a valued part of your business, and not an expendable commodity. As a small business, you don’t have a limitless stream of customers, so you need to make every one count.
Tailored customer relations
To bigger companies, a customer is often one of thousands of booking reference numbers, but to a small business they can be a name and a face. So play to your strengths, whether it’s checking in to find out how they’re finding your product or service, offering face-to-face time, or including a tailored note or personal detail when you send an invoice to a customer. Communicating with customers via the platform most convenient to them shows you’re going that extra mile to personalise your service.
In a world of near-endless choice, customers are often guided by their moral principles and prefer buying into a business whose values align with their own. Whether your business values are the quality of your service or product, or enacting positive change for your customers, you should endeavour to make a lasting positive impression.
So why not ask your customers what matters to them and see if you can incorporate their feedback into your business? After all, if they feel like their opinion matters, and they have a little bit of ownership over what you are doing and where you are going, they’ll be more inclined to be part of the journey.
It’s always worth putting yourself in the shoes of your customer. Consider what you want them to think after they’ve done business with you. Ask yourself what businesses you like, and why. You might find there’s a central theme. By building trust, being responsive and receptive to your customers’ needs, and treating them not as numbers, but as people, you greatly increase your chances of keeping them happy. After all, if they’re happy and keep returning, it strengthens your foundations to do what you do best.