4 Affordable Ways to Keep Customers Coming Back

You may have a plan to invest in marketing and customer acquisition, but do you have a strategy for turning one-time buyers into repeat business?

If not, you’re missing a key opportunity to grow your enterprise. According to RetailCustomerExperience.com, 20 to 35 percent of loyal customers are responsible for 60 to 80 percent of total sales for a brand.

Here are four affordable tools that your small business can use to keep customers coming back.

1. Convenient payment systems — Accepting credit cards not only offers convenience to customers, but also can help you compete with larger companies. In a study published by the Journal of Consumer Research, researchers found that the intention to pay with either cash or credit can determine whether consumers concentrate on a product’s benefits or its cost — to the extent that they might choose different (and pricier) products when paying with credit.

Beyond merely accepting credit cards, consider the inherent value that your payments processor can bring to your customers’ experience. For example, because Intuit’s GoPayment system is mobile, you can handle transactions anywhere, eliminating the need for people to wait in line at a cash register.

2. Customer loyalty programs — According to Nielsen, loyalty programs are critical to driving engagement. Your small business needs tools that allow you to deliver an organized program that customers perceive as a benefit.

With a system like QuickBooks Point of Sale 2013 Pro, you can experiment with different rewards scenarios to gauge which ones actually boost your customers’ purchase behavior. You can also manage the expiration dates for various promotions to ensure that customers stay engaged in the earning and redemption process.

3. Real-time customer service — You may think that first-rate customer service requires a large team and significant operational budget, but it doesn’t. With the help of affordable technology tools, you can provide the same customer experience that service leaders like Zappos have built their reputations upon.

For $20 a month per agent, Zopim enables everyone on your team to offer real-time customer support via a mobile device, your company’s website, and/or a social media account. For email inquiries, Yesware tracks what messages have been delivered, received, and read. This allows your customer service reps to proactively reach out to customers to resolve issues if, say, their original reply doesn’t reach the customer due to spam filters or typing errors.

4. Targeted content and promotions — Your marketing messages stand out when you focus on topics that customers want to hear more about. Instead of sending a blanket email marketing message to everyone in your database, target what you say and who you say it to based on customers’ past purchase behavior. QuickBooks POS allows you to mine data for this information.

Take advantage of tools like Crazy Egg to guide your content marketing. For $9 a month, Crazy Egg can provide insightful web analytics and “heat maps” that show you what areas of your website are capturing the most attention. Using these insights as the basis for any new information you post, you can increase your site’s relevance to customers and spark conversations that lead to stronger relationships — and repeat purchases.

About Stephanie Taylor Christensen

Stephanie Taylor Christensen holds a master’s degree in marketing and has 13 years of marketing management experience for Fortune 500 companies and small businesses. She is a regular contributor to sites like ForbesWoman, Real Simple, Mint, Minyanville, and SheKnows, and writes for several private business clients. Her work is frequently syndicated and sourced by Yahoo! Finance, SFGate, TodayShow.com, and The New York Times. She is also a small business owner, having founded WellnessOnLess.com, and Om for Mom Prenatal Yoga in Columbus, Ohio. Connect with her on Twitter @WellnessOnLess.
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3 comments
Achilles 'boysie' Amante
Achilles 'boysie' Amante

Urgent - Hello I'm hoping this will get me some where--->> Been trying to get some help from the risk department but I have been getting the run around for a week. There has been funds witheld and I provided all documentation ASAP. I talked with a risk rep . Told me 24-48 hours I would get my money.. It is past 48 hours , I called in again , then again they say 24-48 hours. Tomorrow Friday will be 48 hours again. And I know for a fact that I probably won't get the money. Because I have read reviews of other customer experiences of waiting about half a year forcing them to switch to a competitor. As I'm wondering when I can receive money so that I can ship my clients their products? Soon Enough they'll be complaining and asking for refunds. which will go to the chargeback dept in intuit.

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