Building customer loyalty: what you could learn from your local fish & chip shop

You don’t just want your business to survive – you want it to thrive. And for that to happen you need a loyal customer base.

Building trust with customers, and by extension loyalty, should be the goal of every business.

That’s because people are more likely to buy from you if trust is present, says James McCracken, a small business development expert who founded The Successful Adviser.

McCracken warns that even satisfied customers may become disloyal and look for alternatives. The goal isn’t just to satisfy them, it’s to build and maintain trust, which can be established and maintained in many forms.

“Sometimes, customers will leave whimsically, and in the absence of no other means to determine value, they’ll revert to the lowest common denominator – price,” he adds.

However, your weapon against losing customers to cheaper competitors is loyalty. And your ammunition is adding value to your current services.

1. Throw in a little extra

Incentives, no matter how small, give people a tangible reason to return to your business.

Think of a fish and chip shop. Which one comes to mind? The one that always throws in the extra potato cake or calamari ring, says McCracken.

“My local fish and chip shop does that and outsells the three nearby fish and chip shops combined,” says McCracken.

“They have conditioned their customers to expect that they will receive more.”

McCracken says customer incentives can come in a variety of forms – whether it’s coupons, adding a free service to the overall sale or personalized gifts – and they all entice people to choose your business when they’re weighing up where to spend their money.

2. Serve wants, anticipate needs

Successful businesses handle client relationships effectively because their customers’ wants and needs are understood, anticipated and served, says McCracken.

For example, think of us accountants. What you might want when you come to us is help getting your taxes done.

But what you might need – and not know it – is for us to identify areas where your business could perform better, such as improving poor cash flow issues – which is the reason behind up to 80% of small business failures.

“Ask yourself: what can your business do that’s affordable to provide, but high value for your customer, that will enhance their experience and add to the service that they originally came to you for?” says McCracken.

3. Do the unexpected

Be bold. Venture outside the typical business model, says McCracken.

“If you run an online business, send them something offline – something tangible that goes in the post,” says McCracken.

“It’s the unexpected component of client relations that really create that ‘wow’ factor.”

Additionally, keep in mind that not all your messages need be advertising.

They can come in the form of community information or specialised notes – such as an anniversary card – that show you’re paying attention.

Final word

The cost of attracting new customers is significantly more than maintaining relationships with your existing ones, says McCracken, which is why it’s vital you cultivate a loyal group of customers.

“The value isn’t always in the first transaction, it’s in all subsequent transactions. Customer loyalty is the reward for delivering,” he says.

Disclaimer: The content of this article is general in nature and is presented for informative purposes. It is not intended to constitute financial advice, whether general or personal nor is it intended to imply any recommendation or opinion about a financial product. It does not take into consideration your personal situation and may not be relevant to circumstances. Before taking any action, consider your own particular circumstances and seek professional advice. This content is protected by copyright laws and various other intellectual property laws. It is not to be modified, reproduced or republished without the prior written consent of Finance Matters, which is where this article also appeared.

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