It’s no surprise that consumers often feel a more personal connection to small businesses. There’s something about doing business with a locally-owned smoke shop than with an faceless online retailer or big national chain.
But those personal connections have to be earned over time. With each interaction, one customer at a time, small businesses must prove themselves trustworthy. That trust forms the foundation for customer loyalty.
In October 2019, Salesforce surveyed consumers to find out what they look for in the small businesses they support, as well as what business owners can do to earn their trust. Here’s what Salesforce learned about how small businesses earn customer loyalty.
Understand your customers so you can exceed their expectations
How can small businesses get their customers to love them? Here are some great insights from our research:
- Know where your customers prefer to interact: While small businesses should cultivate relationships on every possible channel, Salesforce found social media their customers’ channel of choice. 48% of respondents prefer to learn about their favorite businesses this way, with email as the following preference.
- Understand what customers expect: If your customers prefer things like fast support or personalized recommendations, you should provide them. 76% of surveyed customers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations.
Foster trust: Unfortunately, many customers have grown skeptical of those they do business with, which means small businesses have to go the extra mile to earn their confidence. 93% of customers said their trust in a company makes it more likely to recommend it and continue to purchase its products and services.
Trust is the foundation of any customer relationship
Memorable experiences are certainly a key aspect of earning a customer’s loyalty, but more fundamental is simply demonstrating that your business is trustworthy.
In the State of the Connected Customer report for 2019, Salesforce found that consumers are more concerned with trust than ever before. Nearly three-quarters of respondents said trust in companies matters more than it did last year. That’s important because nearly 9 in 10 consumers say they are more loyal to companies they trust.
The most direct path to earning customer loyalty? Ensure that each of your customer interactions reflects the values above. Be honest with people, demonstrate your reliability, and let customers know you will handle their data with the utmost care.
Then, look for ways you can personally connect with your customers — know how they like their coffee, remember their kids’ names, greet them with a warm smile — to create memorable interactions each and every time. Those are good business habits that help nurture customer loyalty.