By Aimee Woodley
Customers – “we all got ‘em, we all want ‘em, what do we do with ‘em?” Although Jimmy Buffett was pondering the crux of relationships, as small business owners, we definitely all want – and need – customers. But what do we do with them?
Customers truly are the lifeblood of business, so it’s important that you take care of the ones you have.
When most small businesses start out, they focus on what types of products they can make or how many products and services they can offer. But another thought process at the start of a business could come from a different source. Instead of saying, “Here’s what I have for you.”, try “What can I provide that offers a solution for my customers?” When you work at it from that angle, you can form a two-way dialogue with your customer base and really get to know what they want. I know I’ve mentioned this before but getting feedback from your customer base is so important. They may be wanting something that you had no clue they even had an interest in!
Are you just starting out in your new business? Do a bit of research on your industry. Discover what the current trends are and what is up-and-coming to be sure you’re ready for it. When you are offering what your customers want, they are much more likely to stick around.
However, sometimes getting them to stick around takes more than just the perfect solution. Customer service is key. Whether you offer products, services, or both, your business will eventually bomb without good customer service. A shop may offer the best goods in town, but if the employees are always rude, you are definitely going to think twice about going back there. And these days, you are most likely going to take to social media and spread the word. We’ve all seen the rants that have gone viral – some have even made the stock price of corporate giants plunge. Now imagine something like that happening to your small business. One little tweet could be catastrophic to your hopes and dreams.
That is why it is so important to take good care of your customers. Treat them like the lifeblood of your business.
Listen to them, respect them, and pamper them if you can. Offer them something that makes your business stand out – maybe a loyalty program or even just a fun hashtag for when they “check in” on social media #selfiegeneration. As the weather gets warmer, host a customer appreciation barbecue to get to know your customers and the neighborhood around you. Or in the winter months, organize a fun event with hot cocoa and other winter activities to encourage people out and about when they are usually huddled at home. Whatever it is, make it fun and about them. Because without your customers, you wouldn’t be in business!