Have you wondered about how to build customer loyalty for your small business and turn that loyalty into client trust?
If you’ve been a follower of mine for a while, you have probably read or watched one of my videos where I have emphasized to stop thinking of people as customers and start thinking of them as clients. For me, a customer is usually a one shot deal. You make the sale and you move on to the next sale. Whereas a client is an ongoing relationship in which the client gets to know you, likes your products or services, and trusts you to deliver.
How do you build customer loyalty and turn that loyalty into client trust? Following are seven easy steps that if followed, will help keep your business full with loyal clients who will trust your products and services enough to recommend them to others.
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Step 1: First and foremost, reliability. I can’t tell you how many clients have come to me over the years because their virtual assistants, web designers, graphic designers, editors, etc., have simply disappeared on them, or were consistently late, never completing projects in a timely manner. If your clients know they can always rely on you to be there for them, no matter what, they will be loyal.
Step 2: Provide extreme client service. What this means is to always provide the best you can provide. Don’t go by what some people say of good enough is good enough. To me that is a cop out. By always striving to provide your absolute best you will outshine other businesses that are willing to get by with just being good enough. Even if you don’t achieve your best 100% of the time, by striving for it, you are still ahead of the game.
Step 3: Under promise and over deliver. Yes, I know it’s a very old concept but it works! By under promising you give yourself breathing room to be able to provide your best service or product. What could be better than meeting a project deadline on schedule or ahead of schedule with service beyond what was expected?
Step 4: Timely communications. If you haven’t noticed yet, we’re in a world where almost all business is handled virtually. We are in an instant gratification world, so reply to all communications in a timely manner, whether e-mail, phone, text, or instant message. If you have a policy of when and how you reply, be transparent about it. Let your clients know when you normally respond to e-mails, phone calls, text messages, or instant messages.
Step 5: Take responsibility. This is another old concept I sometimes think has been lost in today’s world. Take responsibility for your commitments and keep them. We’re all human and none of us are perfect, thus mistakes will happen. Own up to your mistakes and fix them if you can. If you can’t fix it yourself, find someone to help you. Clients love transparency and honesty. You build customer loyalty when they see you taking responsibility and you definitely start earning that client trust status.
Step 6: Know when to say no. This may sound odd but you need to know who your best potential client is and say yes to those individuals and say no to the others. It will be hard to turn away clients at first; however, you’ll quickly learn working with your ideal clients allows you the space to provide your best service. Those who are not your ideal clients will usually end up giving themselves and you a migraine! Be upfront and suggest a different service provider or a competitor’s product that will better suit their needs. Those individuals then are able to move on, thinking highly of you for steering them into what will probably be a much better fit for their needs.
Step 7: Build a personal relationship with your clients. When clients feel you have a vested interest to know who they are, they will open up to you more, strengthening the loyalty and trust factors. How do they open up to you? You open up to them first. I’m not saying you have to give them your life story but it’s the little day-to-day things as simple as saying, “Man, for North Carolina, it’s freezing today. What’s it like for you up there in Minnesota?” “How are you doing?” “How was your weekend?” “Your daughter is leaving for college this week, right? Is she excited?” You’re giving a little more effort to know your client beyond only doing business.
By following these seven steps you will definitely build customer loyalty and earn well deserved client trust for your small business.