The average small business loses half its customers in three years, says small business management consultant Barry Moltz, so you need every tool you can get your hands on to hang on to clients. Try these four techniques for building customer loyalty.
1. Customer Journey Maps
If the end is a loyal customer, what’s the start? Draw a flow chart on a whiteboard or stick some sticky notes on a wall noting every step that customers make before, during and after a purchase. Think broadly and flexibly: Some of the process may happen out of your control (like customers asking friends on Facebook about your business). Also, customers are unlikely to go straight through the steps in a single path. Rate each step from the customer’s point of view: Does it require the least effort and give the most satisfaction to the customer? It helps to start the mapping with one part of the journey, for instance the steps to booking an appointment.
Learn more: Customer Journey Mapping for Small Business
2. Touchpoints and Moments of Truth Analysis
Think of this as a complement or an alternative to customer journey mapping. Each moment that a customer sees your advertising or passes your store or looks over a bill is a touchpoint, one of many incidents that add up to a total picture of your business in the customer’s mind. Some touchpoints can turn into Moments of Truth, where the future of the customer relationship is suddenly at stake. For instance, a customer walks into a store and asks for a product. Does the employee say “I think it’s in the back” or “Let me take you there right now”?
3. Customer List Segmentation
Know your customers, particularly the loyal ones you want to retain. With customer relationship management software—or just a spreadsheet if you’re diligent—you can tag customers by a few key markers, such as frequent shoppers or big spenders (or used to be big spenders but haven’t purchased for a while) and target them with tailored messages or special offers.
Learn more: Customer Segmentation for Small Business
4. Customer Surveys
What do customers want? Ask them in an organized way with a customer survey. You can easily distribute surveys through email; the old card and pencil at the cash register works too. For maximum value, focus questions on your key customer touchpoints, keep the surveys very short, and ask at least one open-ended “How can we improve?” question. Don’t expect a definitive up or down vote on your business but do expect some useful insights. And just showing customers that you care is itself a loyalty builder.