10 Ways to Create Genuine Customer Loyalty for Your SME

Dec 8, 2020 4:45:00 PM

Starting a small- or medium-sized enterprise in the Philippines can be challenging, but a lot of entrepreneurs do find success in getting their business off the ground and making it thrive. In fact, SME’s comprise a large portion of all registered businesses in the country. Nonetheless, starting a venture is one thing, but staying in business is another. Statistics by the Bureau of Local Employment show that the number of business closures is increasing every year, which implies that business owners need to exert more effort in terms of adopting effective strategies to succeed and to continue to operate.

If you are a young entrepreneur who intends to stay in business for many years, your focus should go beyond attracting customers. What you should aim for is customer loyalty. Loyal consumers will repeatedly patronize your products or services, persuade their friends and family to support your enterprise, and even share their positive experiences with others they might not personally know.. In other words, having a loyal following means you have a group of people who are actively invested in your success, even if you are not paying them a single centavo.

Because of its direct impact on your profitability and business success, developing customer loyalty should be one of your top priorities. To ensure that the customers you worked so hard to entice will not leave you for the competition, consider adopting the following strategies.

Be Accessible and Responsive

Having an up-to-date, attractive, and informative business website is a plus for attracting new customers since Filipinos who are connected to the web are among the top internet users in the world. However, maintaining a proper website is not enough to retain them. To satisfy consumers and keep them coming back for more, you need to make them feel that you are always there whenever they need you.

Make it easy for people to get in touch with your customer service representatives. Make sure that they know your phone number, email address, social media accounts, and other means to reach you. More importantly, be responsive to their needs and concerns.

If your customers call, answer it. If they leave a message or send an email, reply immediately. Respond to their comments on your social media pages as soon as possible. To prevent people from having to wait long for answers to simple inquiries, you can create an easily understandable frequently-asked- questions (FAQ) page that includes information on warranties, returns and exchange policies, shipping and delivery guidelines and other common concerns about your products or services.

Whether you address concerns verbally or online, you must answer promptly and respectfully. Making an effort to provide a pleasant customer experience can significantly help in your goal of developing customer loyalty.

Pay Attention to Your Customers and Provide for Their Needs

As a business owner, it is important to always be attuned to the needs of your customers even if they are not directly telling you what these are. Take the case of payment options. You cannot afford to limit your transactions to cash alone when there is an increasing demand for cashless alternatives in the country. A new study by Visa Philippines revealed that 70 percent of Filipinos are already using contactless payment methods more frequently than two years ago.

How can you build loyalty when you are unintentionally alienating potential customers who are looking for businesses that offer different payment methods? Make your customers feel valued and in control by letting them choose how to pay.

You can start by getting a PayMaya ONE Lite device for your business. It is an all-in-one payment device that can accept all major types of digital payments, from credit and debit cards to e-wallets and QR transactions. You can use this device in your physical store or even when making deliveries.

One good thing about PayMaya ONE Lite is that it is paperless, so you are also helping the environment while processing payment transactions. Records of all transactions are saved digitally, so instead of handing out physical receipts, you can forward them electronically to customers using SMS or email. Indeed, the PayMaya ONE Lite can do most of the things that the original PayMaya ONE device can do, except printing receipts and reading payment cards by swiping. Nevertheless, it does support QR code payments, as well as dips (EMV) and taps (NFC) for debit, credit, and prepaid cards. It also supports a variety of payment networks, including Visa, MasterCard, JCB, WeChat, GrabPay, Bancnet, and of course, PayMaya.

Provide Excellent Service

While providing outstanding customer service seems like a given, you can never overestimate its value.
At the end of the day, customers will remember how you make them feel. If you treat them well, they
will keep coming back and share their positive experiences with others. If you deal with them poorly,
you can expect that they will avoid your business and encourage others to do the same.

There are different ways to improve your customer service, but each one should be anchored on your
sincere desire to make your clients happy. Remember that happy customers tend to become loyal
customers. If you are looking for additional ways to provide excellent service, you may want to consider
the following:

  • Make sure that you and all your staff know your products and services inside and out so that you can readily answer queries and address questions that will please your customers.
  • Be friendly and polite, whether you are assisting clients personally, online, or over the phone.
  • Value your customers’ opinions by paying attention to what they say and implementing worth while and helpful suggestions.
  • Train your staff to be respectful and pleasant when dealing with customers. Keep in mind that what every member of the company does is a reflection of what the business stands for.

Make It Personal

While you can get a lot of things done using modern technology, never forget that many customers crave personal connection. You can’t treat them as case numbers and expect to enjoy their business for many years.

Acknowledge their presence and be extra friendly, especially if they visit your store or contact you online regularly. Concentrate on building a congenial relationship instead of just a straightforward business-and-customer relationship. Apart from giving a pleasant smile and a simple thank you, below are some ideas to make your service more personal:

  • Know your customers by name. Make an effort to learn the names of your regular customers so
    that you can address them more personally. Calling your clients by their names is a sign that you
    respect and recognize them. As such, it will make them feel special and important.
  • Offer rewards and freebies to frequent customers. Consider giving spontaneous freebies or discounts to repeat customers as a thank you. For instance, if you are running a café, you may offer a free muffin or a coffee refill.
  • Mail handwritten notes. While sending emails and text messages are easier and more convenient, take the time to send handwritten notes to your regular customers. You can send letters during special occasions or even on ordinary days. This heartwarming act will never go unnoticed, especially now when people hardly receive any personal correspondences in their mailboxes.

Go the Extra Mile

Do not be content in providing ‘good’ service because you can expect your competition to be doing the same. Set a higher standard and go the extra mile to make your customers feel happy and satisfied. If you own a hostel for example, try giving free dessert or cake to bookers who are celebrating their birthdays

You can also try giving a long-stem rose or a beautiful sunflower to clients during special occasions or “just because.” After all, flowers are an instant mood lifter, and people usually can’t help but feel happy when they receive these beautiful blooms.

Take Responsibility for Your Mistakes

No matter how careful you are, mistakes can happen, and affected customers will most likely share their experience on their social media accounts for everyone to see. Instead of bashing or blaming the customer online, you should take responsibility and exert effort to resolve the issue.

For instance, if your customer is complaining because somebody made a mistake in delivery, apologize sincerely and address the matter immediately. Send the ordered item as soon as possible and include a note of apology with a reassurance that it will not happen again and maybe a freebie to boot. Ultimately, you must work to build and maintain bridges instead of burning them.

Solicit Feedback

Customer satisfaction is linked to customer loyalty. If you want to develop a loyal following, you need to satisfy your customers. To please your client base, it is essential to learn everything you can about them, particularly their likes and dislikes. Since you can’t just assume what these things are, the best way to learn what they are is to ask for actual feedback.

If you run a retail store or an online shop, you can simply ask your customers what they think about your products and services or if they can recommend anything to make their experience better. With the right approach, you can get them talking. But even if they are too polite to comment, the mere fact that you care about their opinion is already a plus point for you.

If you want to acquire a more accurate evaluation, you can always ask your customers to answer surveys or questionnaires about the different aspects of your business. If you own a spa, for example, you can ask about the ambiance, décor, and skill of your staff. You can also inquire about specific services that they like best or those that need the most improvement.

Make sure to listen to the feedback and readily address specific concerns. If your clients shared that your restroom needs cleaning, make it spotless as soon as possible so that your customers will know that you are listening to what they are saying.

Hire the Right People

More than mere workers to get things done, your employees are vital elements in building customer loyalty. Keep in mind that it is your employees who interact with your customers on a daily basis, and they are the ones who represent your business. When they are rude, your clients will automatically think badly about your company. They may not even know the name of your disrespectful staff, but they will clearly remember your brand.

When hiring people, try to look for pleasant qualities like empathy and kindness, especially if they will be dealing with customers directly. They should be pleasant to interact with and patient in responding to difficult clients. It is also essential to recruit people who use and trust your products or services since they will be more relatable. They can easily answer queries and make customers feel excited about your product offerings.

Think about the Welfare of Your Customers

If you want your customers to be loyal, you should desire what is best for them, and not only what will give you profit. For example, you can try offering random discounts to regular customers who find themselves short on cash. If your customer wants to return an item a day beyond the return period because of unavoidable circumstances, be understanding and flexible enough to accept the returned product with a full refund and a sincere smile.

Doing business is not always about money. Consider the little extra things that you do as investments. Customers tend to have a good sense about these things. They will know if you genuinely care about them, and they will remain loyal if they believe that you do.

Keep Your Customers Engaged

Treat your regular customers not as strangers but as family members. Communicate with them individually so that they feel a sense of belonging. If you have new products or services to launch, share the news with them first. Send them free samples of your recent offerings so that they can try them out first.

Keep the conversation going by regularly sending emails and other resources that provide value. For instance, if you are an electronics store, you can send informative videos or tips on maintaining digital devices to customers who bought electronic gadgets. If you supply baking supplies, you can email recipes of cakes and pastries featuring ingredients and tools that you sell.

You can also make communicating with your clients more enjoyable by hosting contests on social media. Offer prizes and incentives that will appeal to your target audience and keep them talking about your brand. For example, if you are a local travel service agency, you can give away a free vacation for two in one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. That way, your business will have a strong social media presence within the contest period, even if you are not really posting much.

As the famous adage goes, “It takes years to win a customer and only seconds to lose one.” Prevent your customers from looking somewhere else by considering the suggestions above. Building customer loyalty can take a lot of time, effort, and consistency, but the benefits are well worth it.