New York’s entrepreneurial scene is highly competitive, with hundreds of local businesses in any given neighborhood. Between customer review sites like Yelp and word-of-mouth recommendations from their networks, your potential client base has countless choices in your product or service category. Why should they choose you?
If you want to build and keep a loyal client base, it’s important to focus on providing incredible service and an experience that makes people want to come back. Here’s how the members of Forbes New York Business Council recommend doing that.
1. Be Empathetic
I don’t think enough is said these days about providing clients with exceptional customer service. Clients definitely have more choices than ever before, but being there for them and showing empathy for your clients is the best way to keep them as long-term customers. While the customer may not always be right, be responsive, flexible and, above all, willing to go above and beyond to help them. – Christopher White, The Sneakers Agency
2. Prioritize Sincerity And Appreciation
Peter Drucker said, “The difference between appreciation and flattery is one is sincere and one is insincere.” Always be sincere and appreciate all of your clients because if they feel they are being taken advantage of, they can tell immediately. In the past, poor service to a client stayed in their circle of friends, and now it will have an impact for anyone who searches your business name. – James Giacopelli, Giac Capital, Inc & Giacopelli Accounting and Tax Services, LLC
3. Listen To And Implement Customer Suggestions
How does David compete against Goliath? People love when they are appreciated. I had my clients listen to their customers via polls and actually implement what they learned. They also thanked them personally and offered to put them in company videos. The idea is to create a cultlike following where the customer feels they are part of the company. That will always help David win. – Philip Smith, PJP Marketing, Inc.
4. Launch A Loyalty Program
I still find that a lot of customer-facing businesses, especially local businesses, struggle with customer loyalty. Implementing a customer loyalty program that provides your customers with tangible benefits while simultaneously ramping up customer retention is a requirement for any business, let alone one that relies on foot traffic and returning business. – Phillip Alexeev, Sketchfab Inc.
5. Encourage Positive Reviews
People who have a negative experience feel inclined to write reviews, while people who have positive experiences usually don’t have the instinct to do so. We encourage members who have been with us for years to share their experiences online in order to give others insight into what it’s like to be a part of our community. – Morris Levy, The Yard
6. Provide Great Service
Treat people better than they expect, and provide them exceptional service. Review sites are a good way to gauge if you are doing this effectively. Providing great service is key. – Josh Bobrowsky, Ignitia Office
7. Focus On Customer Interactions
Know the product differentiators between you and competition and provide great pre- and post-sales interactions. If you offer the same exact product at similar prices, customers would want to deal with a company they can talk to or interact with in a genuine way. They want to talk (live chat, phone or email) to a real person who understands their problems and how the products can help. – Ching Au, Durabrite Lighting Solutions
8. Get To Know Your Customers Personally
As a business owner, you have some idea of the pressures your customers are under — but does your staff? Oftentimes, they only see what clients need, not why they need it. By helping them see customers’ goals, concerns and backstories, you help your team empathize with and appreciate your customers, which comes through in the service they provide. And appreciated customers are loyal customers. – Alan Goeman, eSlide, LLC
9. Provide A Consistent Experience
Do your best to provide customers or clients with the absolute best experience at all times; it’s as simple as that. Sometimes even the best businesses have an off day, so don’t be worried about the one or two bad reviews — worry about trying to keep quality as consistent as possible. Make customer or client experiences memorable. That’s the key. – Hoda Mahmoodzadegan, F’in Delicious Beverages
10. Treat Them Like Family
In PR, clients generally come and go every three to six months, but our average client has now been with us for over two years. I believe it is because we uncover business opportunities beyond our scope and we treat our clients like family. This year, we had a luxury beauty client who I formed relationships for in Turks and Caicos. We spent the weekend together trying to get into hotels and spas. – Warren H. Cohn, HeraldPR
11. Stay In Touch
Outside of your unique selling point, you need to ensure that you stay relevant by consistently popping up on your customers’ radars. You can actively engage using multiple social media tools, which are mostly free if targeted to an existing customer base and are very effective ways to stay relevant and, most importantly, stay at the top of someone’s list for your product or service. – Savraj Aura, U.S. Parking Investments