We’ve all seen those promotions that companies use to try and attract new customers – gifts, cut rates, special offers, etc.  Those kinds of efforts are great and there is a place for recruiting new business, for sure. But what about your current customers, those folks that have stuck with you through all the economic ups and downs, those donors who give a little each year? They are your most valuable assets, and they deserve stewarding and attention.

Here are three things you can do to keep your loyal customers loyal:

1)    Thank them. You know your customer base. If they’d prefer a handwritten postcard, send one. If they’re e-savvy, send an email. If they patron your store often, thank them in person. It doesn’t matter how you do it. Just thank them graciously for sticking by you and patronizing your business when they know there are other choices.

2)    Ask them. You can do this formally, via a survey or focus group (with a small gift incentive), or informally, when you see them.  Ask them what they like best about your services and products and what could use some improvements.  Thereafter, listen to what they say, implement the necessary changes, and go back to the customers to let them know you’ve made the improvements they suggested.

3)    Reward them.  Don’t save all of those gifts, cut rates, and special offers for your new customers. Give them away to those who have supported you consistently, and who have likely referred business to you over the years.  Imagine a sign outside your business saying, “Special Offer for our Loyal Customers.”

Of course, before you can do any of these things, you have to know who your repeat customers are. If you don’t, start collecting information to find out.  If there’s no way to assess that through receipts and other records, go by memory. When customers come in to your place of business, ask them if they’ve been there before. If so, ask if you can take down their contact information so you can send them special offers, or, offer them a “member” card.  This is exactly what all the big chains are doing – they give you a logo card and scan it every time you go to their store so they can keep track of how often you shop there and what you buy. That way, they can customize their offers to you, and track who their loyal customers are. Punch cards and frequent flyer programs achieve the same thing.  It matters less what method you choose and more that you have an effective way to identify, track, and care for your loyal customers.

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