Avoid Customer Loss: How Active Existing Customer Care Solves a Sales Dilemma

Acquiring new customers is essential for developing the business. Anyone who does not care for their existing customers must expect customer loss. In order to counterbalance the loss, more new customers must be acquired – a vicious circle, because acquiring new customers requires resources, which especially small and medium-sized enterprises do not have.

Acquiring new customers is expensive. Not only that, it is significantly more expensive than active support for existing customers. According to the consulting company Bain & Company it is five to 25 times more expensive. The reasons are clear: Launch customers have no experience yet with the products and services of the company, so it is more difficult to convince them to make a purchase. Existing customers already know the products and services and, as long as they don’t have really bad experiences with the business, they usually come back. Because humans are creatures of habit.

Particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises, the focus on active existing customer care is therefore especially worth it, since they oftentimes do not have the required resources – from a financial, personal, or IT technical point of view – to actively go outside and win over new potential customers. Various scenarios come here into play, which could be pursued by companies, in order to inspire their existing customers again and again and thus to ensure their loyalty.

The Small but Subtle Difference – Personal Interaction
Regardless of whether you keep a stationery shop, a small local supermarket or a coffeehouse or restaurant, you all have a common denominator, on which your business relies: loyal customers. A happy customer is one who always returns, again and again, and brings you business and recommends you to their friends and acquaintances or simply tells them about you; but also only if they are absolutely enthralled by you.

Especially for small eateries and shops, which lie in residential districts in towns, the patron is an important multiplier, since oftentimes people who would potentially buy from them never come to their borough. Therefore, growth would be very difficult without the recommendation of people living there. Thus, it is necessary to build a strong bond with your existing customers, for instance by greeting them by name, making eye contact, and being sympathetic with their desires. Let your customers know that you look after them first of all as human beings and not primarily for their money. Because they do not get this feeling in big businesses – there, they are one of many, no employee will know their name and they will also probably not have any interest for it. The experience that customers have in a small stationery shop around the corner is totally different from the one they have with big suppliers – and this is what you should make use of.

Become Part of the Online Community
It is not mandatory for you to set up an online shop to reach out to customers and potential customers. Use however online channels on a basic level, for instance via social media or alternatively on classic rating portals. If you are for instance a restaurant owner – or alternatively a hairdresser or similar – you can use precisely these channels to communicate with customers. Simply begin with your patrons and ask them to give you a positive rating. This effort is worth it particularly as a small local business. Simply imagine the following scenario: You move to another borough or even to another city. Your regular shops are now too far away to ‘drop by’. What do you do? You look for new shops, beginning with bakery, hairdresser, delicatessen shop, supermarket, and so on and so forth. Most likely you first look online, where you can find some shop on your way to work, which you may pass by every day. And exactly here, the shops who are winning are those which a) can be found online and b) have positive ratings. Particularly if you are not the only supplier in your industry, this can make the difference.

Give Gifts and Get to Know Your Customers
Another possibility of gaining bonus points from your customers is to have them collect bonus points and reward them with small gifts when they reach a certain number of points. When there are points for loyalty, and gifts are thus held in prospect, your customers are even more willing to come back to you again and again.

The principle works already with the stamp cards at the bakery, where you get a free coffee after nine coffees. One downside regarding these analogue cards: You do not always learn about the preferences of your customers. For patrons who come every day, you probably know exactly, but ideally you also ‘know’ the customers who do not buy from you every day. Modern customer loyalty cards are usually digital and you may learn directly how your customer prefers to drink their coffee, or which paper and pens they always buy or what their favourite dish is.

Customer loyalty programs are supposed to help you get to know your customers and to understand them even better. But customers are happy especially about one thing: gifts. The nature and size of the gift is rather secondary here, so that small and medium-sized enterprises can and should join in too. If you haven’t started gratifying your customers with trifles as a reward for their loyalty, it is about time to develop an appropriate strategy. Do not let your competitors have the advantage of being very close to their regular customers. Treat your customers as you would like to be treated in a five-star resort and give them only the best – the best products, the best treatment, and now and then also a small gift.

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