How to Build Customer Relationships

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Building a lasting relationship with your customers is a vital marketing strategy in ensuring the existence of your business. Making your customers unhappy even once can impact their likelihood of ever revisiting.

Small, local stores, retailers, and companies, can sometimes offer more personable service because of their focus on the quality and uniqueness of their products not sold anywhere else. Honoring the customers’ needs is what brings them back for more. The customers who approach you will not necessarily be a part of the local crowd—therefore it is important that you take the time to make a good impression to improve business. Running a small or local venture can be mixed with challenges all in its own, but with effective marketing you can overcome all the odds. What better place to promote that concept than on your web site?

Before you have your web site up and running, first develop a marketing plan as to what you would like to achieve through it. As an extension of your philosophies and style, you will want a web site that reaches out to your customers and lets them learn about you at the same time. Once you have that together, then you can plot out the components of your site. Here are some tried-and-true ways to offer optimum results:

* List sales dates, and offer deals, discounts, or coupons/vouchers for customers to print off and use.
* Use your web site to offer email or postal mail updates to all customers who choose to be on your mailing list to which they can subscribe online.
* Offer free or discounted shipping on orders processed via your specifications.
* Offer to include a small free gift as a thank you to customers for their business.
* Suggested features to include on your web site for customers to view are a pictorial catalogue, biographies of key contacts, employees, or owners/managers, and map and pictures of your business.
* Include a Frequently-Asked-Questions (FAQ) section for self-help in case customers are experiencing trouble browsing or shopping online.
* Clearly explain your products or services, including all applicable fees so customers are not unpleasantly surprised when they obtain a quote or make a purchase with your business.
* State your policy of returns, damaged goods, or refunds where applicable.
* Vary your selections by season, holiday, or event. Marketing yourself as a novelty producer in your industry will help you come out on top.
* Make sure your web site is well-maintained at all times, where technical difficulties experienced on your web site are kept to a minimum to avoid losing impatient customers. A small, local business that is not prepared to handle an influx of customers will lose to a larger competitor.
* Provide a feedback section for customers to offer suggestions and rate their overall satisfaction. You can also opt to email a survey to customers who shop online with you.

With careful planning, your small business can be well on its way to surpassing local recognition and make its way to the top of the list for successful ventures!

Copyright 2005 Jennifer McGroary

Jennifer McGroary is a WAHM who has been operating her own home-based web design and consulting business since 1999. Jennifer helps local small businesses, family-owned, & home-based businesses maximize their profits without spending money on advertising. To learn more, visit


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