What makes your customers buy from you again?

While you likely make great efforts to welcome new customers, it’s equally important to keep your existing customers happy.

While you likely make great efforts to welcome new customers, it’s equally important to keep your existing customers happy. As you already know, it costs a lot more money, energy, and time to attract a new customer than it does to keep an existing one, because you must convince a non-customer to buy from your business.

Take a look at why people return to their favourite businesses – you may be surprised at the reasons.

The company hears them

Often business owners think they know why their customers buy from them, but they’re not always right. Don’t guess – ask. And pay attention to what your customers tell you.

Businesses that don’t listen to their customers can quickly find themselves in the position of multi-billion dollar company, Target. When Target prepared to expand to Canada, the company conducted “listening tours” to find out what Canadian shoppers wanted. They learned that Canadians wanted a similar shopping experience to visiting a U.S. Target store – but they didn’t listen. Prices were higher than Canadian shoppers expected and product inventory inferior to Target’s U.S. outlets. Canadians shopped elsewhere and all 133 locations were shut down in less than two years – a debacle that cost the company US $2-billion.

Look at the model of national darling Sleep Country Canada. This company became successful by listening to their customers and providing excellent service – right down to delivery staff wearing the blue boot covers to help protect customer floors from dirt and damage.

They’re treated like gold

Business owners are often advised to under-promise and over-deliver. But what customers appreciate even more than receiving a product ahead of schedule or getting a bit more value is how you treat them.

Here’s how you can try to outdo your competitors using first rate customer service:

  • Take note of which method of communication your customers prefer. Some appreciate a call while others would rather hear from you over email.
  • Get to know your clients personally. Remember their first names and a few details about their families. Send birthday gifts. Recognize their business milestones.
  • Thank them personally for choosing your company with a handwritten note.
  • Check in from time to time. If something is less than satisfactory, respond immediately without blame or excuses. Find out what you can do to fix the problem and take action.

Remember, your customers know how to find a good deal, but finding a company with exceptional customer service is rare. Offer it and your customers will not only return, but they’ll refer your business to their friends and family too.

The business offers rewards

A loyalty program offers customers an incentive to shop while rewarding them for their patronage.

Avoid the assumption every customer wants a discount. Talk to your clients about the type of program that would appeal to them. While some will respond to monetary rewards, others – like fans of eco-friendly outdoor gear brand Patagonia – prefer a useful service that aligns with their values. Can you name another company that upholds their commitment to sustainability by helping customers resell their clothing for store credit, like Patagonia’s Worn Wear initiative at their Portland, Oregon location?

Now that you know how to improve customer relations, think about what can do today to encourage repeat business by making your customers delighted.

Next steps

  • Learn more about what you can do to please your customers and increase sales.
  • Look into loyalty program apps designed for Canadian small businesses like Spoonity, Brownie Points or Vicinity.
  • Talk to a Scotiabank Small Business Advisor if you need financing to support your company’s growth.