As an entrepreneur, your business is your lifeblood. Growing and running your small-to-medium enterprise (SME) is what gets you out of bed each morning, while generating enough profit to make ends meet gives you freedom to put your head down at night for some needed rest.
The more you develop your business and grow your customer base, the more chance you will have to improve your financial situation and provide your employees with the chance for their own financial advancement and professional growth.
Keeping your existing customers happy and minimising your churn rate, while targeting new customers accurately, is key to sustaining your customer base.
There are a number of recommended approaches for delighting your existing customer base, while also expanding it.
This includes being sure that you know who your ideal customers are, focusing on your most profitable customers, while also diversifying your customer base, and ensuring top-notch customer service. Important, too, is building a brand that draws customers and then secures their loyalty.
Customer profiling that helps you target your ideal customers
Customer profiling, to determine when, where and how to communicate with your customers, is crucial for growing your customer base. ‘Know thy customer’ is commandment number one for any SME wanting to expand their reach. To build and accurate profile of who your ideal customer is, other than their age, gender and geographical location, you will need to find out the following information about them:
A good understanding of your ideal customer’s needs and wants will help with sustaining your customer base.
Market research that keeps you ahead of the curve
According to a Think Room blog on customer-based growth, market research is key for keeping up with market trends to ensure your services or products stay relevant. For this, the SME development experts at Think Room recommend that you consult published information sources to glean useful insights into current market conditions and trends and talk to key customers, business partners and suppliers for up-to-date market information. This approach is commonly known as ‘dumpster-diving’ and is crucial if you want to maintain relevancy within your industry and keep ahead of current industry trends.
Brand awareness is much more than just designing a great company logo
Michele Markey, FastTrac’s Vice President, reminds us in a recent Forbes article that your SME’s brand doesn’t only involve the effectiveness of your branding, marketing or advertising techniques; it also includes the way that you communicate who you are to your customers. Your brand should convey “what your product is, what that product means to your customer – [your] brand is how you make your customer feel. Your brand is what draws them to buy from you.”
One key way to leave a lasting impression so that your brand becomes more than just your company logo, is to build a relationship with your customers. This can be done through sending regular newsletters and updates, reaching out to them on social media platforms, giving them handy tips and advice through informative blogs and publications, and, of course, through face-to-face networking. Above all, your clients want to trust you and feel that they are important to you. They want to like your ‘vibe’.
If your customer base starts to dwindle, simply remind them that you are there
Customers engage with brands all the time. They are barraged with product advertisements 24/7 via social media and mainstream media platforms. This is the nature of the world in which we live. Business owner Angela Mcrory points out that sometimes customers just need to be reminded that you are still around. This can be done through establishing a “robust social media presence” on social media platforms like Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn.
Your brand is only as good as your customer service
It means very little if you have great relationship with your customers but your customer service is hurting. ‘Know thy client’ also entails knowing what type of customer service they expect. Customers of today want speedy service delivery and if an app can do it quicker than a human, so be it, says customer experience consultant, Micah Solomon.
Solomon believes that today’s customer doesn’t necessarily need human interaction. If you can digitise service delivery, do it. Just be sure that you provide them with all the information they need upfront for their decision-making. Don’t let them have to chase after you for the details they need. This can be via a well-designed website or automated email reply service. For more tips on modern-day customer service, do give Solomon’s informative article a read.
At the end of the day, your customers should be your biggest brand ambassadors. Growing a brand and service that customers want to tell others about takes time and commitment, but – with growth as your end goal – it’s well worth it. Sustaining your customer base is a fundamental aspect to great success!
Sage Pay’s secure online payment solution is a great example of technology that allows business processes to be automated to keep you and your customers happy. Feel free to contact us to find out more about our product.