Help Customers Fall in Love with Your Business

Steve Strauss, Inc. Magazine Small Business Columnist and Best-Selling Author

Customer loyalty is a vital ingredient for building repeat business and customer referrals. Here are five steps to ensure your customers (and even their dogs) love your business.

In Portland, Oregon, there is a legendary bookstore called Powell’s City of Books. And a city it practically is. Taking up an entire city block and four stories high, Powell’s is a treasure trove of new, used, popular, and obscure books. With over one million titles, it’s one of the world’s largest sellers of new and used books and one of Portland’s most beloved small businesses.

Powell’s has earned this distinction for its excellent book selection but also for its great staff, superior customer service, and overall involvement in the community.

My pal Sarah wandered into Powell’s one rainy afternoon, searching for an out-of-print novel that held sentimental value for her. Although the book was nowhere to be found on the shelves, a staff member named Alex did not simply apologize and send Sarah on her way. Instead, Alex embarked on a mission to find that book.

Alex reached out to other bookshops and tapped into online communities. It took him a week, but he tracked down the elusive novel. But going the extra mile made Sarah a Powell’s customer for life and turned her into a passionate advocate for that bookstore.

I love this story for many reasons, primarily because it demonstrates what it takes to make a customer fall in love with a business. So, how can we do that?

5 Steps to Build Customer Loyalty

1. Be great at what you do:

People hire you to do a service for them, or they go into your shop or online store to buy something from you. If your product or service is average, or meh, they may be back; they may even become a regular . . . or they may not.

But what if you were great at what you do for your customers?

What if you went the extra mile to be the best? If you sell flowers, what if you make exceptional arrangements every time? If you cook, what if you prepare meals with the best ingredients and a dash of love? Or what if you treated your customers like an electrician recently treated me? I hired him off Craigslist. He came over, did the job, and checked a few extra things around the house. He found a dangerous short that could have caused a fire.

He’s my electrician for good.

2. Shower the ones you love with love:

Love is a two-way street. Like Alex, the employee at Powell’s, you can show your customers that you care by providing outstanding service. Whether yours is a high-end boutique or an organic grocery, going above and beyond makes your customers feel special, fostering loyalty like a lasting romance.

What does this look like? How about gift-wrapping a customer’s special purchase? Or working late so that you can fix your client’s hair right before the “big event”? Going that extra mile makes your business unique and helps customers fall in love with you.

3. Share the love with your team:

I recently saw a survey that found that the best small businesses have one thing in common: The owners are great managers. They take good care of their employees and let them know they’re special.

Perhaps it’s an unexpected day off. A gift card to a local restaurant. Or a bonus. By treating your employees well, you make them happy. And happy employees create loyal customers.

4. Sweeten the deal with a little something extra:

Relationships, both personal and professional, thrive on thoughtful gestures. So, surprise your customers by adding extra value.

Whether it is a freebie service, a discount card, or free shipping, giving customers a little extra TLC creates a lasting good impression.

5. Express your thanks:

Great businesses express their gratitude sincerely and often. This lets customers know they are more than just a transaction—they are the heart and soul of your business.

You could do something as simple as texting them a message expressing your appreciation. (Check out the Index by Pinger app to see how you can easily track customer preferences and create text templates for sending quick messages of appreciation.)

Or you could give your best customers a small gift to make their day. Whether big or small, thoughtful gestures that demonstrate your gratitude can go a long way.

For most of us, it’s natural to want to show our appreciation to loved ones and friends. Extending that appreciation to employees and customers can create personally satisfying and professionally rewarding relationships.

And here’s a bonus tip: Just like with any show of affection, it doesn’t hurt to put some reminders in your calendar to “share your love” throughout the year.

If you like this piece, check out my article “Making It Personal: Your Small Business Superpower.” And to learn more tips for running and growing your small business, visit the resource page at Index by Pinger.

steve strauss portrait

Steve Strauss

Steve Strauss is often called “the country’s leading small business expert.” A best-selling author and an Inc. Magazine small business columnist, Steve is a thought leader, global speaker, spokesperson, content creator, and author of 18 books.

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