8 Steps to Build a Stronger Customer Base
Each morning, we walk through the Path, a huge underground shopping system in Toronto that turns winter into summers and frozen Canadians into grinning beach buddies.
What Brings Customers Back
There are dozens and dozens of coffee and muffin shops along the way and despite bizarre marketing flashes, they're really all about the same except for one.
In this little store front, the tiny uniformed manager knows everyone who has ever bought a bun or coffee from the shop. Her voice is 200% bigger than she is. "Hi Mary! Hello Bob" can be heard as the satsumi of morning office goers flood down a path runway.
The little shop is filled with customers being greeted and saluted and praised by this huge marketing team disguised as a single tiny Asian lady. So, in building a strong customer base, here's the number 1 step:
Steps to Build Stronger Customer Base
1. Build relationships
Building a successful customer base is all about having a personal link with clients around a single but repressed buying experience.
In this case, it's coffee and a bun in the morning and most coffee breaks. In others, it might be a regular financial advice or the new leased car every two years but if customers are coming back, you're winning by building the relationship.
As competition gets more global and intense, understand your customers’ needs and perceptions. Make building relationships the key point in your organization and decisions.
Other factors determine your customers’ experience, too. To be successful, you need to manage these other factors more effectively:
2. Recognized Brand
Yes, majority of your customers still are largely influenced by brands. Work hard at making your brand get noticed.
Differentiate your product or service from what is generally offered in the market. Identify gaps in the market or underserviced areas and build your brand to respond to these unmet needs.
Keep building your brand until it becomes known in the market. Target the trend setters in your industry and get them to notice your product.
3. Market Position
If you are in the hotel business, get your brand at the top of hotel review sites. If you’re number 1 at Trip Advisor in your area, you can tip a lot of decisions of people looking for hotels.
Word of mouth is very effective in promoting your brand or destroying it and in the technology world we are in now of review sites, the word of mouth has taken on global proportion.
Find out the niche not served very effectively in your area. Listen to what people want in your business. Respond to this. Make your product or service respond very effectively to what people are asking for.
4. Cost and value
Cost is not always associated with cheap or the lowest price. Customers have other needs such as prestige, safety, self uniqueness, status, ease, social responsibility and more.
You will certainly have very satisfied customers when they see you work very hard to give them a positive experience.
They will even be more satisfied if they see you promote the values they adhere to. They can easily make compromises and keep a blind eye on other things once they are satisfied that the values important to them are effectively addressed.
But most of all, you will have them coming back when they know how much you value them. The price will not matter much when they perceive and feel they are getting value and are valued.
5. Raise the standards in performance and service quality
Even if customers easily forgive the little things when their values are adhered to and they are valued, you slack in providing the best service in little things and voila, your performance will suffer.
More so, if you claim that quality is what you want to deliver and your service sucks, you will lose a lot of your customers and no new customers will be interested in you. Take care of the little details.
Always raise the bar in the service area. At times, the customers demands may just become overwhelming but this is no reason for not responding. Time to use new devices or automation to help handle the requests.
6. Offer solutions to your clients
Know the service needs of the market you are targeting and once you have them as customers, make sure you work harder to meet their demands.
In many service businesses, you often can easily satisfy customers when you offer a whole package taking care of every need the customers have around the service you offer.
Be aware of the possible problems your customers have and make sure you have solutions ready for these. Your customers will get to understand that you know the business and that being with you will be a stress free experience as you are always ready with solutions.
7. Solve customers' problems
Customers really get angry when instead of solving the problems they present, the business staff spend their time explaining why the problem is not their fault and they do not have any obligation to resolve it.
Customers these days want to access your services all the time and contact you whenever they need your help.
Outsource services you are not able to do to suppliers you have tried out yourself. When a negative experience is brought to your attention, address them immediately and resolve them positively even if it will cost you. Customers tend to share negative experiences more.
Your customers want to feel that they are valued for bringing their business to you especially if they had been doing this for years and years.
A little acknowledgment once in a while like an upgrade, a discount, a small gift or a public recognition will get your business a lot of mileage in customer satisfaction.
All these factors drive your customer experience and are equally important to deserve your time.
First and foremost, treat your customers as you would treat the most valued person in your life. Always do the best you can to help them out. When you do this most of the time, you will not worry about customers.
Start now by looking at all these factors and identify your strengths and the areas where you need to intervene immediately.
Strategize your interventions and monitor its impact on your business. If the profit is increasing and business is booming, celebrate. You have hit the problem in the head.
If the impact is negligible, revise your strategy and make them more market smart.
Keep trying out strategies until you get the results you want.