As small business owners we all know that customer satisfaction is the goldmine of repeat business that will all need to strive for. If you are in business to sell one widget to one person at a time, and then go out and look for another new customer, you are in for the long hard road to slow growth. When you gain a customer, you want to look at that customer as a lifetime value number, not just a single sale. Think of how much a customer is worth over the typical lifetime of a relationship. Say that you are cleaning carpet and that each of your customers stays with you for an average of 4 years, getting their carpets cleaned on average of 4 times per year for $ 200 each. That customer is not worth $ 200 to you. They are worth $ 3200. In this situation would it be worth it to clean their house for free once per year for every qualified person they refer to you? You bet it is!
The whole idea here is that you must “over-promise and over-deliver.” You will create a Unique Selling Proposition (USP) for your business that offers the best promise that you can make to your customers, a promise that is unlike any promise that your competition can make. Make sure that you can go a little bit beyond that promise so that you can really wow your customer. You will always have customers that you will never be able to please. Dump them quickly and keep nurturing your good customers.
Create an A-list of customers that are amazing. Offer that list the best deals, where you may lose a little money, because you know that this certain group of people will bring you hoards of new customers, many times worth the small amount of money that it cost you to thank the customers that mean the most.
Again, to reiterate, you do not have to treat every customer equally. This is capitalism, not a charity. You are in business to make money, right? Obviously do not break any laws, but there is no law that says everyone has to get the same coupons in the mail, or the same marketing piece. You know who your best customers are. Treat them like your left arm, treat them better than anyone that walks through your door, and they will reward you in spades. If you had a customer that needed you to open you store after-hours for an emergency, do you think that person would ever forget that act of kindness? Maybe it interrupted your dinner, so what? If you own a hardware store, you may have just gained a customer for the next 20 years, maybe even multiple generations of customers.
The last quick thing I want to mention is loyalty. Loyalty is very rare any more. You have to constantly remind your customers that you are there, with your marketing material. Even your best customers will forget about you if your marketing does not jump up and down and say “look at me, don’t forget about me!” Never slow down on your marketing, especially to your good customers.