Experts Weigh In: How do you build long-term relationships with your customers?

business servicesBuilding a strong customer base can be tough. Turning those customers into long-term customers who’ll come back time and time again is even tougher.

At MyCorporation, we’ve found that creating a login feature keeps our customers wanting to work with us. With MyCorp Vault, our customers can login to access their business documents whenever they need them. We also consistently provide assistance to businesses throughout their entire lives with services like filing annual documents.

We asked our small business owners how they create long-term relationships with their customers and this is what they had to say:

“In a business world where technology is unavoidable, sometimes it’s the simple things that count the most. Sales. Customer Acquisition. Retention strategies. There’re business applications that can help quantify every aspect of your business, from your website to your CRM. These tools can help to automate your business so you can get back to doing what you do best. In today’s business environment, you have to be on the cutting edge of that technology, because your competition already is. Once you get that out of the way, it’s time to get down to business. Your business. What do you do best? Why is your product or service the best? In what ways do you treat your clients better than anyone else? Despite the huge advancements in technology in the past decade, sometimes it comes down to the simple things in life (and business). A simple handshake, a handwritten ‘thank you’ card, remembering something about your customer (like their kids’ names, birthday or their hobbies). At Netfloor USA, we’ve developed a tradition of sending a four-leaf clover to our clients. Whether they’re new clients, or we’ve worked together for years, we will send a handwritten thank-you card along with a four leaf clover, whenever there’s a good reason. (And we are always looking for reasons to reach out to our customers!) It might seem a little corny, but the reaction I get 95% of the time is very positive. Not only do clients call or email me to say “thank you”, they express shock that we took the time to handwrite a card and send a four-leaf clover. The hardest part for us is finding the mailing address of some of our clients, since so many people work remotely these days!” – Ryan Hulland, Netfloor USA 

“The best way to build long term relationships with your clients is to establish a consistent dialogue that does not always revolve around what you sell. 

The more you know what’s going on with your client, and help connect them to solutions to the challenges, and needs they face, the more you build trust with them. 

Clients want relationships with providers who truly care about their overall wellbeing. When you are positively impacting their overall wellbeing you will remain with them and do business with them time and time again.” –Diane Helbig, Seize This Day Coaching

“Once an order is concluded with any client, our first step is to take a feedback/review from them. It shows that we value their opinions and if any of the suggestion is for the better of the company (and possible), we implement their suggestions and send them a thank you email as well as a personal call from one of the C-level employees. We provide discounts for our returning customers every time they do business with us & send offer emails on festive occasions to all our clients. Our customer relationship manager calls and checks in on our customers, few weeks after their order has been concluded, to ensure their satisfaction and solve any issues that they may have. Customer retention is really important for any business and the foundation of any retention strategy is built upon genuinely caring for the customer and showing it.” –Srajan Mishra, TSI International

“Fitpacking has a loyalty program that compounds bonuses. For every excursion a client books with us, they save another $100 on their subsequent trip. So the 2nd trip they save $100, the 3rd trip they save $200 etc. We have found this to be extremely effective in building long term relationships.” –Steve Silberberg, Fitpacking

“How to build long-term relationships with customers:

  1. Do what you say, even if it cost you money. 
  2. Be on-time no matter what 
  3. Honor your quote. 
  4. Make friends with your contact, treat them with respect.” –Louis Botel, Equipment Recycling Services

“I think it goes without saying that first of all you need to produce an amazing product, if they are not happy with that, they’ll likely not come back. 

For the clients we retain we find offering them discounts according to their location works well. So for instance we offered a 10% discount on a few US clients on July 4th. 

For more local clients we’ll always send out an xmas hamper with some champagne and chocolates. It brings a smile to their face, lets them know we are still available for work and make a good conversation starter.” –Paul Manwaring, Design and Marketing Consultant 

“Customer satisfaction is not sufficient to sustain long term relationships. At Royce, we aim to exceed our clients expectations, treating them like family by surprising them with free gifts (especially remembering special occasions), hand written notes from our CEO and educating them about who we are and what we do.” –William Bauer, Royce

“The service you offer greatly depends on how you do business, and how your services affect your customer’s experience. 

We run an ESL recruiting business placing English teachers in China. The main mission is to place teachers at excellent schools across China. But we’re constantly getting teachers returning to us once they finish their contracts and want a new position. We don’t just place them at schools in China. We make the whole process easy for them. 

By us making the process easier for them and with them being comfortable here in China, they’re able to focus more on their teaching and have a much better career.” –Brendan Gibson, New Life ESL

“My strategy for building long term relationships with my patients in my podiatry practice is fairly straight forward. Give them an experience far greater than they were expecting and better then my competitors offer. Doing more than the person expected gets them taking about the business. Most business owners strive to give people exactly what they expected. The problem with that is no one gets excited when they get what they expected. They do not run out into the street yelling with enthusiasm. They do not refer others when they get what they expected, they expected it. Always exceed expectations and you won’t be able to stop people from having long term relationships with you!” –Dr. Daniel Margolin, New Jersey Foot & Ankle Center and Effective Management

“Many of my clients are long term and return to me when they need additional work, why? Because I offer an exceptional level of service that most developers do not. Here are some of the things that set me apart from my competition and help me maintain the relationships that I have: 

1) Committing to a realistic timeline – and then DELIVERING on that timeline 
2) Speaking to clients in a way they understand – I do not use too much industry lingo when describing methods and how the project will go, I speak “non-tech” – clients love that. 
3) Response time – anytime a client emails me, they get a response within 2 hours tops. They know when they need me I am there. 

These are just 3 of the ways I make my clients feel super special and like they are my only client – and they totally embrace it. I think in a world where customer service is lacking, it is such an open door for other companies and businesses to kick it up to wow customers and steal customers/clients from their competition!” –Jill Caren, 2 Dogs Design

“Our biggest customer retention too is email. We use it in two ways: 

1) We work hard to get people to sign up to our email list, and then send them weekly emails showing them different services, deals, hacks, etc. that can assist them in their cord cutting journey. 
2) We provide personalized email support so that if customers are looking to be able to watch a specific channel online for example, we can help them. In some cases, that channel may not be available now, but later a service like Sling TV will add the channel, and we will email the customer back to let them know.” –Chris Brantner, Cut Cable Today   

“We never get comfortable with a client and just do an okay job because we know (or assume, incorrectly) that the client will always be coming back for more. Every project is treated like our entire reputation depends on it, because it does. We are in contact with our repeat business clients several times throughout the year to see if they have any upcoming projects they’d like to discuss.” –Chris Bryant, Empire Studios

“We offer a 10 year warranty on our design/build projects. During the course of the project we communicate every week and build a friendship. After the project is over several of us at the company check in with them on a yearly basis. We have 74% repeat clients.” –Betty Brennan, Taylor Studios, Inc.

“One thing I do is write personal thank you notes for my clients’ orders. It is my way of acknowledging the personal nature of our business. They trust my judgement about which colors and styles will look best on them and I want them to know what an honor it is to work with them. We work collaboratively, but I always make sure I am a good steward of the faith and trust they have put in me.” –Annie Kip, J. Hilburn Men’s Clothiers 

“To ensure customer retention and to help build long-term relationships, we had to find ways in which we could differ from our competitors, in order to be a more valuable proposition. In that respect, we decided to offer our live chat, email and telephone support free of charge. That way our customers feel secure and that any issue can be quickly resolved. We also like to send the occasional freebie. We offer our most loyal customers the opportunity to leave reviews and in exchange send them something in the post. This shows that we appreciate their continued custom.” -Matt Warren, Veeqo

“I would say that the number one factor in retaining customers long-term is to provide excellent customer services. If you make your client feel valued and you do everything you can to ensure they are happy with your service, then you’ll find that a happy client, is a loyal client. One of the things we do to make this happen is provide our clients with dedicated Account Managers. It’s a great way to build rapport by delivering professional 
interpersonal relationships with your client base and also serves to provide a fantastic continuity of service. We also find that providing clients with an incentive to return is also something which is appreciated. If you don’t have the cost of acquisition, then pass that saving onto a client, whom was loyal enough to come back and use your services again. Competition is strong, so It’s important to thank those loyal to your brand.” –Simeon G Howard, Your City Office

“In an effort to improve our customer retention rate and our reviews on Yelp, Amazon, Google, etc, we had a company-wide brainstorming session. One idea we came up with was to send hand-written thank you notes to all of our new customers. The data shows that through 4 months, we have increased the amount of customers who order a second time by 18%, which is a very promising start. The data is supported by the numerous positive emails we have received from delighted customers who received our note. The power of a handwritten note is often overlooked in today’s digital age, and it’s a great way to build relationships with customers.” –Steve Levine, JAM Paper & Envelope

“I’ve found that providing consistent, valuable content is key to growing and retaining clients/customers. For instance, If I haven’t spoken to a client for a while, I like to send a follow-up e-mail to touch base. Typically I’ll attach a useful business-related article or link, such as a blog post, that they should find interesting. I also ask new clients if they’re interested in signing up for my free e-newsletter as a way to stay in touch on a regular basis while also providing them with noteworthy marketing and design content on a monthly basis.” –Jake Scott, Scott Creative

“Customers want answers and with the evolution of mobile phones and other means, they are working longer hours and not just 9 to 5. We take great pride on being there to answer their questions even after hours. Customers have our mobile phones and are encouraged to contact us after hours if needed. I find they don’t abuse the privilege and really appreciate knowing they can always get in touch with us.” –Bob Bentz, Advanced Telecom Services 

“It is my experience that intensive, comprehensive, consistent communication with former and current clients is, overall, long term, the most productive approach to grow a company. The following are a few examples that we use in our business. 

1. Meeting follow up letter. A recap of our meeting and a plan for the future. Gives the customer something to look forward to. 

2. Referral letters. Systematically asking past customers keeps your business top of mind and reminds customers just how wonderful of an experience they had working with you. 

3. Customer appreciation day. A day to thank past and present customers for supporting your business. Most businesses won’t take the time to acknowledge those who’ve helped them so it’ll help to separate you from your competitors. 

4. Annual review letters. Reminders let customers know that you’re committed to meeting their needs year around.” –Shaun Caldwell, Charlotte Print

“Everyone is familiar with the saying, what have you done for me lately? We use a CRM system to send personalized and relevant emails each week reminding out customers what we have done for them. 

These emails are never sales pitches. The emails always include helpful information that can be used to make their job easier. In addition, we encourage our clients to share this info with their friends.” –Victor Clarke, Clarke, Inc.

“The most effective way I’ve found to maintain long-term customers in my field is to have pre-agreed key performance indicators and to schedule quarterly meetings to review the account performance. This shows that I value them as a customer and gives me chance to be proactive in recommending ways to improve the account. Showing customers that you’re ahead of the pack like this completely disarms the threat of competitors poaching your business.” –Seb Dean, The Imaginaire Online Ltd

“Customer Service is part of everything we do. From my personalized email campaign to a US-based Customer Happiness Center that personally handles each concern, even those customers ask us on social media. To help my customers find new favorites, I’m in the process of building a custom recommendation engine that will help them find new products based on ones they already love.” –Matt Behnke, Orthotic Shop

“Most of our clients stay with us for years (several have been with me since before I formed the company) and a majority of them refer us to other clients who also stay with us long-term. They key to retaining long-term clients is making customer service your number one goal! This may sound obvious, but it typically means putting your clients before your profits–which actually leads to MORE profits in the long run. I have learned to be slightly lenient with policies (such as our cancellation policy) because it shows the client that we value having them as a part of our company and will bend a bit to keep them comfortable. This leads to them holding us in a more positive regard and truly seeing how we go out of our way for them (something not many companies do anymore) which keeps them as a client for much longer, again leading to increased revenue.” –Bonnie Treece, The Brain Domain

“SnapCap, a small business alternative lending company, maintains its long-term, return customers by providing a Vanishing Interest Rate to customers who pay back their loans on time. 41% of SnapCap’s eligible customers take a second loan, and 46% of those will take a third loan, 38% a fourth loan and 38% a fifth loan. These statistics speak to the value of credit relationships.” –Hunter Stunzi, SnapCap

“The easiest way to maintain long-term customer relationships is through performance. As a small business, I focus not on attaining the most amount of customers possible or the most amount of revenue possible, but rather the most productive customer relationships possible.

I would rather build up our account with Macy’s rather than trying to sell Royce products in 200 other boutique stores across the country. 

I would rather have an end consumer buy 6 products from Royce rather than have 6 separate customers buy 1 product each.

As a leader in the business, I take my customers out to dinners, coffee, and invite them to my showroom in New York City to see where our manufacturing take place.

Relationships are built on experiences. With this in mind, I try to provide my customers the best experience possible!” –Andrew Royce Bauer, Royce Leather Gifts

“Client retention is absolutely vital to a company. When we bring a client aboard we assign a two person “client care associate” team to each account. Their sole job is to work with the client and maintain continual outreach. The key is to seek feedback and input from the client and monitor their overall satisfaction. Too often, companies work hard to secure a client but don’t truly invest in valuing the client after the sale. In addition to our client care team, we also invest in providing as much value added solutions as possible through key information, data and extra services. By genuinely caring about your clients and treating them great goes a long, long way!” –Ernie Bray, ACD

“We are a small business serving the Portland Metro Area of Oregon. We have been in business for 26 years and over 50% of our customers are repeats. The main reasons our customers keep coming back to us are: Great customer service, keeping in touch throughout the year, when they call they get a live person, 24/7 emergency service, multiple ways to contact us, professionalism and knowledge.” –Ann Lynn, Rich’s Tree Service, Inc.

Give us a call at 1 (877) 692-6772 or visit us at mycorporation.com, and let us help you start and run your business!

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Deborah Sweeney

is the CEO of MyCorporation.com. MyCorporation is a leader in online legal filing services for entrepreneurs and businesses, providing start-up bundles that include corporation and LLC formation, registered agent, DBA, and trademark & copyright filing services. MyCorporation does all the work, making the business formation and maintenance quick and painless, so business owners can focus on what they do best.

2 thoughts on “Experts Weigh In: How do you build long-term relationships with your customers?

  1. In case you’re a little business and you don’t catch up with your customers and prospects you’re abandoning a few genuine cash on the table.

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