One of the most common mistakes small-business owners make is to focus so much time on attracting new customers that they skimp on the effort it takes to create loyal customers. That's a mistake, of course, because it's more expensive to get new customers than to retain them. To develop and nurture a relationship with your customers, you have to communicate regularly and, above all, provide consistently over-the-top service.
Here's a look at how three small businesses are keeping the customers they worked so hard to attract:
What better way to ensure you'll be happy with a product than watching the creators build it in real time? KMGI, a New York-based producer of TV-style ads for the Web, almost doubled its business from existing clients in 2011 by allowing them to monitor the ad design work in real time. The 74-employee company allows customers to see which project tasks are completed, and gauge the cost for the day, week, and month. Company owner Alex Konanykhin says the process helps create transparency and trust -- two key ingredients for retaining customers. Clients also stopped calling the company to ask about the status of their projects. "Their calls used to eat much of our time," he says.
Why it works:
Customers want to feel involved with the whole project, not just the beginning and end. "One of the big issues a customer has is that there's too much away time — too much time where the customer feels they don't know what's going on," Stirtz says. Allowing customers to offer feedback on your project or product throughout the process enables you to catch and resolve problems early on.