4 Business Practices for Repeat Customers
Repeat customers are the lifeblood for a small business, providing the base income it needs to grow. But encouraging return business can be tricky, especially for an entrepreneur with a small team and limited resources. There are a few things even the smallest startup can do to encourage loyalty in customers, resulting in regular, reliable income.
Provide Personable Customer Service
If you’re loyal to your customers, they’ll be more likely to return that loyalty. In every interaction you have with customers, make sure you and your team members remember names and details, even if it means just noting the information in your CRM.
Maybe last time you saw a particular customer he mentioned his son’s soccer tournament, or a family vacation they were about to take. When you comment on a detail a customer shared in a previous conversation it takes that relationship to a more personal level. It shows a certain investment and increases the likelihood of a return visit.
Make an extra effort to ask customers about products or services they’ve bought in the past. It shows you value their business and that you view prior experiences as important.
Send Personalized Offers
Coupons and special promotions lure in customers, but when those offers are personalized, they’re even more effective. Send offers based on a product a customer regularly purchases or choose items you think would be of interest based on past purchases.
Services like Flint automate this process by deploying customized coupons. Businesses can gain and retain customers with audience-tailored offers delivered immediately after purchases. Customers can download coupons into Apple Passbook, putting small businesses alongside big brands.
Amazon does personalized offers particularly well. Sign in and displayed on your homepage are: “Related to Items You Viewed,” “More Items to Consider” and “Inspired by Your Shopping Trends.” These displays prompt the shopper to think about what else he or she might need. When looking at a particular item, listed in a sidebar is a “Customers Also Bought” section. These tailored offers grab the attention of the consumer.
Offer Recurring Services
Recurring revenue services have become a vital way for businesses to improve cash flow. Service-based businesses like plumbers and HVAC companies accomplish this by providing seasonal system checkups and priority emergency visits for an annual fee. Check out Clover Cool for an example. Cloud software services manage this through charging a low monthly rate. If you can find a way to generate monthly, quarterly or annual income through a special program, subscription or product, you’ll have a built-in loyal customer base that takes care of itself. This can be a little more challenging for a products-based business, but solid email marketing campaigns can help remind customers about you. Some businesses have created recurring services through box-based subscriptions. Check out Birchbox, flicker box and BarkBox where a new box of goodies is automatically delivered each month.
Loyalty programs are gradually going digital. Entice customers through special discounts and coupons available only to program members. Consider how Starbucks does this, for example. Customers can register a gift card (through the Starbucks app), which unlocks all kinds of perks and insider info. Purchase 30 drinks in a year and customers are eligible for the Gold Card rewards program. This entails free in-house refills, a free drink every 12 bought, and more exclusive offers.
You’ll find your customers will choose your business over competitors if you can find a way to make it easy for them to use the program. Some businesses offer a small discount on select items every day, while others provide free items after a certain number of purchases. Work out the best discount option for your own revenue stream and customers will gradually begin to sign up.
Whether you provide your rewards through a service like Passbook or you deploy a card-based program, this is a great way to ensure customers will keep coming back.
Repeat customers can boost a company’s bottom line and provide a foundational income that allows it to grow and attract new business. Whether you’re a brick-and-mortar, online or service-based business, by trying out these four business practices, you can boost your recurring revenue and create a base of customers who are happy to recommend your business to others.
About the Author:
A journalist and digital consultant, John Boitnott has worked at TV, newspapers, radio and Internet companies in the U.S. for 20 years. He’s an advisor at StartupGrind and has written for NBC, Inc Magazine, Entrepreneur, USAToday, BusinessInsider and Venturebeat among others.