Did you know there are over 33 million small businesses in the United States each year? Solepreneurs and freelancers make up nearly 99% of businesses in the country, yet most of us shop at major corporations for our commerce needs.
You don’t need to cheapen your prices or increase your marketing budget to compete with the big fish. Instead, you must gain customer loyalty. You provide something those big names don’t: the ability to build a relationship between the provider (you) and the client.
The Psychology of Sales
In fact, many people are willing to pay a little more for a similar product or service if they know (and like) the person they’re buying from. So, whether you’re starting an online writing career or opening an independent hairstylist salon (which you can learn more about here), you must build and maintain positive client relationships.
How can you do that when there’s not enough time in the day for your regular duties? Check out these simple customer relationship tips, and build them into your routine. Soon, that “extra work” will make your business run smoother.
To you, it may be common sense that you should communicate with your clients when they need to know something. But that’s not the case with every business owner.
Consider hairstylists, for example. If you’re a stylist who knows you’re not feeling well, it’s best practice (especially in today’s post-pandemic world) to message your clients for the day and let them know you might be contagious. Most of them will show up anyway, but those who have immune system concerns will appreciate that you gave them the option to reschedule.
When it comes to responding to messages, consider having an auto-reply system in place for your busy times. That way, new clients will know when to expect a response, won’t think you’re ignoring them, and move on to another business.
Once you talk to a client in person or over the phone, let them know your policies on communicating during and outside business hours. If they don’t respect those policies, you can gently remind them of what they are when you reply.
2. Stay Professional and Positive
If you had a choice between hiring two people with similar skill sets but distinctly different attitudes, would you choose the friendly individual or the negative skeptic?
Most of us would go for the positive over the pessimistic — within reason. Being overly friendly and bubbly can also be seen as unprofessional. You’re not trying to become “best buds” with your client.
Avoid gossiping and getting involved in their personal lives. They may seem interested at first, but if you say the wrong thing or they change their minds about the topic, you could lose them as a client and all their referrals.
You’ll learn about their friends, job, and networks as you get to know them. It’s okay to ask how their kids are doing and show interest in their lives as long as you keep it professional.
3. Share Your Expertise When Asked
Unless you’re in a business where confidentiality is necessary, be willing to share your knowledge. Let people know which product manufacturers you use, what videos you watch to expand your skills, and your expert opinions on related questions.
If someone disagrees with you, learn how to agree to disagree. Don’t get confrontational. Let people see that they can be open and honest with you and that you’ll share your professional expertise without judging them.
Give your honest feedback when asked, but refrain from jumping in and offering your “expert advice” if no one has explicitly requested it. We all know those people, and you do not want to be one.
4. Go Above and Beyond
Any supplier or service provider can meet expectations. Consumer loyalty happens when you go beyond the client’s standards, exceeding them consistently.
Here are some examples:
- You’re on time and do the job, but you do it without complaining and happily.
- You provide the service and throw in a discount coupon for the next visit.
- You request — and listen to — client feedback as to how you can improve your business.
- You provide individualized services as needed by tweaking your normal offerings.
Look at what similar business owners do, and find ways to go above and beyond the norm. Your clients will remain loyal to you, even when you must raise your rates, as is part of owning a long-term business.
Competing with major corporations like Walmart and Amazon can be challenging. It’s not always financially feasible to keep your prices aligned with theirs, especially if you have to ship your goods.
You have to capitalize on the crucial thing that you offer that they can’t: Building and maintaining positive client relationships. If you run any small online e-commerce business then you can take the help of technology to make good offers and make good relations with customers. There are many shopify plugin in the market which help to make good relationships with your customer. Keep these tips in mind as you interact with new and existing customers, and you’ll build a kind of loyalty that the big fish can’t compete with.