When you started your business, you likely had a vivid and promising picture of how gratifying it would be to satisfy your customers, to serve them in a way that not only met expectations, but exceeded them. In that way, they’d hopefully become “regulars”, returning again and again, and encouraging others to do the same. Having repeat business is not only satisfying—it’s effective: It’s much easier to maintain loyal customers than to find new business. But what does it take to create a reliable base of repeat customers?
It starts with delivering an unforgettable customer experience that embodies your Brand Promise with enthusiasm, efficacy, consistency and genuine connection—not just the first time around, but every time, exactly as promised. Here are some tips on how to build a strong base of customers who trust your business and keep coming back.
Follow through on your Brand Promise
What do you want every interaction with your customers to feel like? Your business has a brand—the connection (or lack thereof) between your company and your customers—whether you intentionally create it or not. And brand connection starts before you make a sale, even before they walk through your door. To build a loyal customer base, you need to not only understand this connection, but develop a brand that communicates your promise clearly, and then follow through on it, every single time.
Your Brand Promise is a brief statement that identifies the heart and soul of your unique, ideal customer experience. It’s not just a slogan or tagline: It’s two or three sentences that define your way we do it here, used internally to describe—and consistently remind your team of—that ideal experience you strive to create. Having this helps you foster the emotional connection your customers have with your business: how it makes them feel, what it reminds them of, why they chose (or should choose) your product or service over your competitors’. Following through on your Brand Promise is critical to generating repeat business.
Determine what your customers need
People make purchasing decisions with their unconscious mind—in other words, buying is driven by emotional motivations and existing associations. Think about the associations you’ve attached to, say, going to the dentist, your favorite coffee shop, or the real estate agency who helped you find your first house. People already have unconscious associations—nostalgia, fear, joy, success—attached to your type of business before you even reach them. They care, unconsciously, about how your product or service makes them feel. And then they justify their buying decisions with their conscious mind, considering things like the features and benefits of your product or service, cost, level of quality, perceived value, and so on.
So when trying to determine not only what your customer wants, but what emotional need your product addresses, get clear on the demographic (age, gender, income, etc.) and psychographic info of your ideal prospect. Knowing this will help you address that need through your marketing, and satisfy it in every interaction.
Deliver with satisfaction in mind
No matter what your business makes or offers, there’s always an element of transferring your product or service into the hands of your customer. This might be inbound, where the customer plays an active role in the delivery (grocery store, gas stations). Or, it can be outbound: Either you create a product or service at your location and bring it to your customer (pizza delivery, newspaper publisher), or you travel to your customer and provide it at their location (electricians, carpet cleaners).
Especially with new customers, your delivery method has a dual role of delivering your Brand Promise as you deliver your product or service—and nailing it. Whether you’re working with an inbound or outbound delivery model, there are five key elements that ensure a positive experience:
- Timeliness—Provide consistent and on-time delivery.
- Convenience—Consider how to deliver your product or service more conveniently than your competitors can. Sometimes convenience trumps the product itself.
- Accuracy—Create a flawless experience with a strong attention to detail that alleviates stress for you and your customer.
- Personal impact—Evaluate how the entire buying journey emotionally impacts your customer.
- Responsiveness—Offer your customers the chance to voice their opinions and engage in responsive dialogue.
Regardless of the mode or means, delivery touch points with your customers are vital moments to ensure that they’re glad they chose your business instead of a competitor’s. It’s what shapes their customer experience, and determines if they’d like to continue doing business with you.
Go above and beyond to show customers you care
While efficiency and consistency are important, so is the attitude that surrounds the process and sets the tone. Through every step of the experience, starting with the first time the customer learns about your business, it’s important that each interaction is instilled with care, enthusiasm and passion.
One way to show that you care is by introducing customer loyalty programs: This will help you express your genuine gratitude for their patronage and thank them for returning. And for a more established relationship, you can encourage existing customers to recommend your business to friends and family with a referral discount, credit or gift: an incentive for both them and the new customer. But don’t lean exclusively on rewards programs—there’s great power in simply having strong attention to detail: Enthusiasm and precision help customers trust your business and its ability to provide that same wonderful experience each time they engage with you.
Stay in touch with your customers
Customers come back because they perceive that you’re making an extra effort to offer them a great service or benefit, and in a special way. Your martech stack is a great place to start sending that message—Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools, a strong online presence, accessible online retail, and multiple customer service channels all provide new opportunities to impress your customer. And always keep the conversation going. Customer feedback forms and surveys are an excellent means of after-sale engagement that show your customers that you see and hear them, with the added benefit of providing you with even more valuable information on your market’s demographics and psychoanalytic data.
Communication is especially important when it comes to the occasional mix-up, mistake or complaint. While it’s not always easy to deal with that disappointment, addressing the issue head-on as an opportunity is an exceptional way to prove and improve your business: You can remedy the customer’s poor experience while also updating the part of the system that caused the frustration in the first place.
No matter what they’re purchasing, customers want to feel satisfied—and not just with what they paid for, but with the experience of making that purchase. And this is where repeat business is made possible: when you not only deliver on your Brand Promise, but go out of your way to exceed customer expectations. If you’d like to discuss more about your own promise to your customers, let’s connect.