The reason customers tend to prefer small businesses is the human element and personalised customer service that often gets lost in the mix with larger companies and chain stores.
These five steps will help you maintain that personal touch with your customers, no matter how large your business gets.
Emails & Newsletters - Emails and newsletters are in use by so many businesses for a reason - they work. Have your customers subscribe to a “7 tips to …” article on your website and use their details to keep them informed of new products as the future of your business. Stay focused on your customers' needs.
Video Conferencing & Chatrooms - Use technology to stay in touch with your customers. Schedule a video conference or an online chat with as many of your customers as possible. Ask about their concerns and listen to their ideas. You'll be surprised how much this benefits you and your business by bringing new concepts to light - not to mention the powerful impact this will have on your customers.
Special Offers & Discounts - Offer special prices on products or services for loyal customers, making sure they know how much you appreciate their business. Partner with other businesses to get your customers discounts with them. This extra effort on your part will build you new contacts in the business community and make your customers feel appreciated.
Surveys - Use the data collected from your customers through polls and surveys to shape your business direction. You'll stay informed of the general state of your customer base and be able to adapt your services to suit their future needs.
Human Contact - Schedule a coffee or even a dinner get-together, letting your customers meet you in person. If actual in-person contact isn't your thing, try making phone calls to a number of your customers. Let them hear your voice and see that you see them as another human being - not just a statistic or name on an invoice.
Technology has brought so many advantages to the business world that it's important to remember some of the disadvantages. That it makes it too easy to shrink the personable, human element of our endeavours from our primary goals.
Keep in touch with your customers (and make sure that they keep in touch with you as well!) to ensure the success and humanity of your business.
Mike Reddy is a Chartered Accountant, business coach and advisor helping businesses in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Gold Coast to easily increase their profits and cash flow. He is currently President of the North Sydney Chamber of Commerce, a Regional Councillor for Sydney North East and a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants Sydney leadership team. As well as advising businesses, Mike presents business development seminars and webinars and is regularly contacted by the media to comment on small business matters. You can connect with him on Facebook, Twitter and Google+.