5 Customer Retention Strategies

  • 16 Nov 2020
  • Posted by ccrossen

It's not a secret that the cost to acquire new customers is far more expensive than the cost to retain an existing one. Smart business owners understand the value of repeat business and how it affects their bottom line. And while losing a customer isn’t as detrimental to a big business as it is a small business, every business – from big to startup – should have a customer retention strategy in place.  Here are a few strategies that can help you retain your customers.

1. Get to Know Your Customers
It is critical to form a relationship with your customers. At the very least, try to greet them by name. Forming a relationship creates a sense of trust with your customer. Going a step further to better understand their shopping habits will ultimately provide them with a more meaningful shopping experience. Customers are equally as motivated by their emotions and by the experience you provide as they are by the products or services you supply.

So go beyond their names; try to find out their likes and dislikes, and even some of their personal life! Ask questions to answer the following: What are the reasons behind their purchase? What other items could be purchased to support their need? Is anything missing? Why did they choose your business for their needs? These questions help you understand your clientele, better serve them for their future needs, and ultimately retain them.

Did you know there is a “Get to Know Your Customer Day” observed each quarter? For 2021, those days fall on January 21st, April 15th, July 15th, and October 21st. Consider using those days to plan a promotion, either by special discounts, giveaways, sending personalized thank you cards – the options are endless! Network with other businesses and share best practices. Use the #GetToKnowYourCustomersDay hashtag on social media as a starting point.

2. Stay Connected
Consistency is key, especially when it comes to communication. Your prospective customers and loyal customers want to know about your new products, services, discounts, and events. We think social media is a MUST, so whether you pair it with snail mail, an email, or a newsletter – just remember to be consistent! When you use social media, you’re able to share timely information while also engaging with your customers. Tied back to our prior section, the more you know your customers’ likes and dislikes, the easier it is to keep them coming back for more.

3. Ask for Feedback
Assuming your customers are satisfied is a poor practice; instead, ask them! Capturing feedback in the moment is critical, but you could also conduct a survey by email or telephone to allow customers to provide top-of-mind insights. Getting feedback immediately after a transaction has taken place is truly the best. Be sure to have customers attempt to identify any employees that may have assisted them or who provided the service. This will allow you to follow up with praise for work well done or corrections for issues that might have arisen. Furthermore, converting verbal compliments into digital reviews can be extremely helpful to gain new customers. As more and more people use online platforms to research before making a purchase, seeing positive reviews helps them feel at ease to try your business!

4. Quality Control
It’s common knowledge that customers seek out quality products and services. One bad product or one service gone wrong can cause you to lose a client indefinitely. Be sure to have quality assurance measures in place. But don’t fret – it’s inevitable that something can and likely will go wrong at some point or another. In this instance, be sure to respond and immediately in an effort to make it right. If someone posts a negative review, responding in an accommodating and prompt manner can create a sense of comfort for prospective clients as they know that you will rectify any issues.

5. Loyalty – Loyalty – Loyalty
No matter the type of business you own, the goal is to generate customer loyalty. You can help create loyalty by offering your returning clients a special deal, access to exclusive sales, discounts, coupons, or rewards. In some cases, it could even call for hosting customer appreciation events. Doing any combination of these things will go a long way toward making customers feel special. In turn, it will encourage them to keep doing business with you. Since 2004, Howard Bank has been helping businesses grow and prosper in the greater Baltimore area. We help business owners succeed in our local market. Today, we’re the largest bank headquartered in Baltimore with an array of product offerings that allow you to take control of your finances. Contact us today for more information on how you can make Howard Bank work for your business and build your legacy.1

 

 

Disclosure:
( 1 ) The information contained herein is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute financial, tax, legal, or business advice.

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Build Your Balance Sheet, And Other Advice From A Commercial Banker

  • 21 Sep 2016
  • Posted by Amarasco

At Howard Bank, we pride ourselves on supporting our community. Small and medium sized businesses are the backbone of any community, and supporting them is a key goal of ours.

James Witty, executive vice president and chief lending officer for Howard Bank, works every day to help businesses grow and thrive.  In his almost 30 years in the industry, he’s helped businesses work through nearly any situation imaginable: “It’s amazing the different ways people can make money. I’ve financed a wide range of things, from art to laundromats to heavy construction equipment to office buildings. I can tell you there’s probably not many things that I haven’t been a part of.” witty-jim-new

Build Your Balance Sheet

So what advice does Witty offer for businesses? “Build your balance sheet,” he says. “A lot of people focus just on their income statement – how much they’re earning – and that’s their scorecard for the year. But your balance sheet is going to stand the test of time.”

“There are always going to be ups and downs, so if you focus on strengthening your balance sheet it will ultimately lead to improved earnings. It’s also going to give you a sleeping pill when there are tough times; you know you have something to fall back on.”

“Remember the old adage that cash is king.  In a downturn you can never

have enough,” he says.

Don’t Over Leverage Yourself

Businesses often need to incur debt in order to grow. For example, they may need to invest in more equipment, more trucks to build a fleet or more real estate.

“Debt has its place and use it appropriately,” Witty states. “Having equity in your equipment or real estate gives you options in the future if circumstances change.  Too much leverage puts more stress on everything.”

Have Good Advisors

All successful businesses have good advisors: a banker, an accountant and a lawyer. Witty suggests you ask a lot of questions. After all, they’ve probably seen similar situations before. They can help you avoid mistakes that they may have seen past clients make.

As for bankers, Witty says “What a banker does for you – a really good one – is to sit there and say ‘Let’s talk about your business in detail. Where do you see your business in the future and what are the areas that you are most concerned with and keep you up at night?’ A banker can review your plans and draw attention to the amount of risk you may be assuming. As a business owner, it’s up to you to decide whether or not you’re comfortable assuming that risk. But the banker’s job is to make you aware of it.” “We want to be part of the team that helps you be a success,” Witty says.

Choose Howard Bank

If you’re looking for a banking partner for your business, Witty suggests you consider Howard Bank. He joined Howard Bank less than a year ago and was instantly struck by the commitment and quality of the associates here.

“I see it every day. It’s that people care. [Care] may sound like a trite word, but it’s not, because that is why we are successful. People really care what our customers are doing.”

“We’re truly going to add value to our relationship by understanding your business in great detail, offering sound advice and being there for you…in good times and in bad.”

The team at Howard Bank goes above and beyond to develop relationships with our business customers. All business is built on relationships and all relationships are built on trust.

Howard Bank associates actively go out and visit their clients. Face-to-face and personal interaction allows our associates to speak directly with you and to talk through issues. Witty concludes with “Communication for us is always important and I think it has to be done at a higher level.”

Howard Bank offers a number of banking services for businesses. Visit our website to learn about the various products and services we have to help you finance your business’ growth, optimize your cash flow, and simplify your banking transactions.

About Howard Bank
Howard Bancorp is a bank holding company with total assets of $989 million as of June 30, 2016. Its principal operating subsidiary, Howard Bank is a locally managed, headquartered and growth-focused community bank serving businesses, professionals and individuals in the Greater Baltimore area through 13 full service branches. Howard Bank is a wholly owned subsidiary of Howard Bancorp (NASDAQ: HBMD). For information visit www.howardbank.com.

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8 Benefits of Social Media for Small Business

  • 01 Jun 2016
  • Posted by Admin

People were skeptical of social media for business in the beginning, but with the explosion of social media over the last few years, you’d be hard-pressed to find a marketing expert who doesn’t recommend social media as part of a holistic marketing strategy. That said, you may be wondering, what are the real benefits of social media for small business, and is it really worth the time and effort to build a social media presence if you’re just running a small operation rather than a big corporation? Short answer: There are plenty of benefits for small businesses in social media.Start taking advantage of them with these eight simple, proven advantages of social media marketing for companies of any size:

1. Social media can reduce your overall marketing costs Social networks are a cost-effective way to get your brand in front of fans and prospective customers. It doesn’t cost you anything to tweet a message, pin a product photo to Pinterest, or promote a discount on Facebook, so there’s no cost outside of your own time spent. If you do have money to invest, these channels offer advanced but affordable advertising platforms that you can use to target consumers with demographic, keyword, and interest-based campaigns. The highly specific targeting parameters offered by Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn can help you get the biggest bang for your marketing buck.

2. Social media can impact your organic search results. When it comes to impacting your website’s position in search engines, you need to create optimized and compelling content if you want your domain to appear high up on the search results page. By sharing this content on social media as well, you can get in front of interested readers who may visit your website, like or share your content on their own social networks, and link to it from their own domains. Google and Bing both pay attention to social signals like this when they decide how to rank links on the search results page.

3. You can offer better customer service with social media. If you’re looking for a way to field customer comments, concerns, and questions, then you are going to find social media to be extremely beneficial. Customers using one of the common platforms like Facebook or Twitter can communicate directly with you, and you can quickly answer them in a public format that lets other customers see the quality of your customer service. The impact of this activity can be huge: 71 percent of consumers who receive a quick brand response on social media say they are more likely to recommend that brand to other people.

4. You can design your own online personality. Social media is meant to be more like a cocktail party than a business meeting. You will always do a lot better in a social situation if you are more like yourself and less like a corporate robot. Social media is a great way to display your business’ personality, as well as behind-the-scenes information about you, your employees, your workspace, and more. When you humanize your brand in this way, it makes it easier for consumers to connect with you and develop loyalty.

5. Social media lets you associate with other businesses. The fact that you are able to connect directly to the consumer means you can use this platform to also connect to other entrepreneurs and business owners. From possible strategic business partners to new distributors, social media lets you have real conversations with actual people who might otherwise be socially or geographically inaccessible in the real world.

6. Customers can validate your business on social media. The idea behind allowing customers to correspond directly with you is so that they can get the best customer service possible. When this occurs, it happens in a very public forum that can be seen by other prospects. So when customers sing your praises to their friends, it not only boosts your online reputation, but increases the chances that someone else is going to give you a shot next time they need your services.

7. You can provide value with social media. The idea that you can provide a truly valuable service to your target market means you are positioning yourself as an expert in your industry. Whether that’s educational and entertaining blogs, posts, or tweets, if you are solving a problem or providing information, you’re adding value that customers will appreciate.

8. Social media helps you gain a competitive advantage. The true advantages of social media are the ability to get a leg-up on your competition by connecting with your current and prospective customers in an organic way across the web. If used correctly, social media can help you boost your search rankings, provide better customer service, craft a compelling online personality, connect with new business partners, build connections, and earn word-of-mouth marketing from your brand advocates. If you aren’t using social today, we recommend you start posting and start reaping the benefits of social media.

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Don’t Just Sit There. Be The Ethical Guy!

  • 01 Mar 2016
  • Posted by Admin

Who is the Ethical Guy?.....

The Ethical Guy is the guy who is confident in their ability to participate in scenario planning and strategy but is still able to identify if the risk is a long shot or unethical.

Don’t Just Sit There. Be The Ethical Guy!

Ethical Guy

 

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Driving Desirable Sales Behavior

  • 14 Oct 2011
  • Posted by Admin

Many sales managers get frustrated when sales people hit a performance plateau. This typically happens when a sales person reaches a financial comfort zone. Since they are comfortable with the amount they are making they don’t make determined efforts to improve performance. To drive consistent sales improvement a sales manager needs to have a good handle on goals and make meaningful adjustments to compensation.

Modifying sales behavior comes down to two things, goals and compensation. Both need to be addressed to drive desirable sales behavior.

Goals are most important. Proper goal setting means that the sales manager has aligned personal goals with company goals and both parties should be motivated to achieve them. Goal setting isn’t an exercise at the beginning of the year that should be quickly forgotten. Driving sales behavior takes place when goals are reviewed. It’s a commitment from the sales person and the manager that meeting these objectives is realistic and significant. Financial comfort zone can be overcome when a sales person has committed to meeting their benchmarks. Use goals to drive sales behavior, don’t make the mistake of setting goals and never looking at them again.

The second tactic to drive sales behaviors if a particular goal activity is deficient is compensation. A common thought is that sales people will only do what they are paid to do. Compensation drives behavior. If that’s true then increasing compensation will improve results. Unfortunately, this oversimplification is rarely the case. Sales managers typically can’t buy better performance. A simple change in compensation won’t focus a sales person on specific behavior. However, changing a commission structure can be used to emphasize a particular goal. For example, many sales managers get frustrated with a lack of new business opportunities in the pipeline. Change how they get paid on brand new business or putting a commission emphasis on first meetings with new prospects can be incentive for sales people to focus on that lagging metric. It’s typically best to put a time-based limit on the adjustment and analyze shifts in daily behavior to reflect the new commission structure. This will help evolve the plan to the right ratio for maximizing the desirable sales behaviors.

If something isn't working, change it. A sales force in a comfort zone is an assurance that significant revenue gains will not be realized. Always challenge sales people to achieve the goals they set and provide incentives to drive specific metrics of desirable sales behavior.

Neuberger & Company, Inc. is an authorized Sandler Training® licensee

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