Here are some of the services I’m talking about: aestheticians who provide services that most clients would require updating once a month, landscaping to upkeep lawn and garden, car maintenance, hair dressers, the dentist (!!!), etc.
The market in these industries is very flat, meaning that there is lots of competition for consumer business. How many nail places do you see out there? There are at least 5 down my street. Another feature is that it might be hard for customers to assess or compare the quality of services being provided. Do I really know if this mechanic is all that much better than the guys down the street?
You know you are the best mechanic on the street, in the city, maybe even in the WORLD! So how do you keep customers coming back to your business?
Be consistently awesome
If you are in a very competitive marketplace, your customers can leave you at the slightest indiscretion. It’s a tough thing to be perfect all the time, but realize that even one off interaction can lead to straying.
What’s the secret to making sure your customers see your seamless delivery? Set very clear expectations for your services and be sure to articulate how you met them. Make sure the standard against which your services are being compared that day are understood and easily compared to the ones provided.
For example, you might be providing the discount version of your service (ex. 1-colour mani-pedi), but in your customers’ mind they are expecting the luxury version (ex. shellac with decals), and by comparison your performance will fall short. Remind them of exactly what they have hired you to do, and maybe even walk them through how you checked off all those boxes.
Being clear leaves little room for interpretation and as people tend to put more weight on the very beginning and very end of interactions your customers will be grateful that you took the time to make sure everything was great. This is a good practice to adopt to make sure every one of your services is to the best of your firm’s abilities.
Build a personal relationship with each of your clients. Get to know them. This will help you deliver a more customized service.
Knowing that you client loves hydrangeas but hates roses will undoubtedly help you deliver their favourite garden. Getting to know a client and letting them get to know you in a personal way builds trust. They will trust you are the best person to deliver this service, and might even be willing to follow you if you move to another organization or your organization undergoes changes. Your clients will also be more likely to advocate for you.
It also changes the shape of the market – yes there are a zillion dentists out there, but only this one truly knows my smile and how to take the best care of it. Engaging in social norms of friendship is a very powerful tool, I would feel much more loyal to a friend who happens to be an excellent manicurist than to a stranger. As your customers if they know anyone else who might require your services. Having your clients advocate for you makes them all the more committed to your relationship. This is because people prize being consistent; claiming they are a patron of your business and encouraging others to be as well motivates their future behaviours to be in line with these claims.
Research has shown that people tend to trust their friends’ opinions. Forty-two percent of US customers are loyal to brands that their family and friends do business with. Developing a community of clients that are friends with each other helps build a bigger network, develop useful channels for feedback, and keep people returning over the long-haul.
Loyalty programs are effective ways for incentivizing commitment to keep customers coming back.
Add value to your services by providing rewards that you deliver over time and from repeat services. When creating an effective loyalty program, personalization is key. People value openness and the sense that you truly know what they like. They don’t want to feel like you’ve locked them in and taken away the choice to leave.
Use loyalty programs to show thanks for loyalty, not entrapment. Partner with non-competitor companies to get your customers discounts with other service providers. Try something new and innovative – stand out from all the other loyalty cards in your customers’ wallet. And here’s a bonus – loyalty programs can also be a great way to entice new customers!
Say thank you – and mean it
When you provide services over time, you build relationships with your customers. This creates a need for sincerity and authenticity in every interaction. Make sure every customer knows you appreciate their business =by saying thank you regularly. But – a word of caution – do so in a way that feels real to your customers.
A hand-written note at the end of the year… A special deal personalized for the individual client, an extra special touch in your service that day… These are things that will endear you to your clients and keep them coming back.
Final tip – remind your customers how long you’ve shared your relationship. Relationships can be fleeting, but constant reminders that your dentist has always been there for you… It adds meaning to an otherwise transactional business interaction. Don’t be afraid to tap into the emotions of your customers. It might just be what’s needed to keep customers coming back.