Nov 04, 2015

Start-ups and small businesses really have to focus on customer retention, as smaller companies have a smaller client base and holding on to that is simply essential. Your customers can be some of your most powerful sales advocates, too, especially if your budget doesn't allow for a major advertising campaign. CRM isn't just for big business, it's for the one-man band and SME's too.

So here are a few low-cost ideas that can help a small business or start-up hold on to its current customers and even snag new ones:

1. A loyalty programme

It doesn't have to cost the Earth to give your customers an incentive to come back. A simple loyalty card costs no more than the cost of printing and they can be devastatingly effective for small cafes and service businesses. A loyalty programme also gives you something to announce and promote on social media, which can bring you new leads and customers.

2. Follow up with customers

It costs literally nothing to follow up on a customer with an email or phone call, where possible. This one is especially effective after a home visit, or a B2B service provision and it marks you apart as a company that cares. Without this simple follow-up you might well be forgotten, but it puts you back in the client's mind and they might even have more work to talk to you about if you call at the right time.

3. Solicit feedback

The likes of Yelp and reviews on Amazon and even eBay can make or break a small business, but you can shape the public's perception by actively soliciting feedback from clients or customers that you know have enjoyed the experience.

Software like Yodle allows you to send a personalised email to the customer requesting a review on your chosen site. Many will be happy to comply and there are several advantages. First you are inviting the customer to relive the positive experience, increasing the chance of repeat business, as well as showing them you care about customer service, and you build your reputation with new clients.

4. Engage your customers

Invite your customers to bond with you on several levels. Make it easy and friction-less for them to follow you on Facebook and Twitter. This immediately gives two more touch points and two new lines of communication that will ensure a customer sees your latest offers or new services.

5. Profile your customers

Don't overstep the mark, but get as much information on your customer as you can. It shows interest, which can help forge a bond with this customer, and it helps focus your avatar, your typical customer, which means your future marketing efforts will be more successful.