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10 Tricks Successful Businesses Use To Keep Customers Loyal

10 Tricks Successful Businesses Use To Keep Customers Loyal

So you want to run a successful business do you? While it definitely takes a lot of hard work to do that, you might be surprised by how simple the steps are in regards to reaching that goal. Indeed, at the foundation of every expanding business lies the customer. For your company to be the best it can be, it has to be run in a way that focuses on expanding the number of loyal, repeat customers that you have.

Don’t worry. Finding new customers and keeping them happy doesn’t require a huge monetary investment on your part. All it takes is a bit of care, consistency, creativity, and hard work.

Now, onto the specifics. What do successful businesses do to grow a loyal group of customers? Get out your pen and notepad because I’m going to lay it all out for you.

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1. They have standards.

Is anybody else here a fan of Gordon Ramsay’s Kitchen Nightmares? Well, whether you are or not, the show teaches us all a simple lesson about running a successful business: setting standards and expectations are a must. When employees know what to expect, and are given clear direction, the company runs more smoothly. And when the company runs more smoothly, the customer takes notice.

Of course, you can always leave room for improvisation, but you want the core values of your business to stay consistent. If you do that, customers will in turn reward you with consistent purchases.

2. They flaunt what they’ve got.

Okay, so perhaps it’s not so obvious as that. However, it is true that successful businesses are able to subtly inform potential customers exactly why they are great, and in turn why they should bring their business to this business. They don’t brag, but they aren’t too modest either. Take Apple or Samsung, for instance. Their smartphone commercials do a great job of revealing exactly how and why their product will improve their customer’s lives. This technique works in nearly every industry. You just need to figure out how to get your positive message out to your customers.

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3. They make use of data and analytics.

The use of “analytics” is a growing trend in business, with sports perhaps being the best example. Teams, like the NBA Houston Rockets, analyze hundreds of data points and collected statistics in order to improve their product. This, in turn, acquires more customers/fans. Of course, you don’t have to be a major sports team to make use of the same concepts. Keeping track of customer related data can be an easy and effective way to determine whether your satisfying their needs sufficiently. All it really takes is some basic mathematics and a few hours a day in Excel — so get cracking!

4. They communicate.

Most successful businesses have some method of communicating with their customers, whether it be through little surveys, employee interaction, or something else that’s more outside-of-the-box. It is most important that customers feel like they are heard, and that you are receptive to their ideas. One of the most successful businesses in the world, video-game company Blizzard Entertainment, is famous for this. They make a point of interacting with fans on a daily basis through online message boards, gathering data, conversing with them, and making note of their ideas. Take notice of your customers, and they will return the favor.

5. They stay on the cutting edge.

When you go to most successful restaurants these days, you’ll find that they don’t have wood paneling on the walls and disco balls attached to the ceilings any more. Smart businesses know that they have to keep up with their customer base, not only because their wants and needs are constantly evolving, but also because everyone gets bored of the same old thing after a while. Just look at McDonalds, as an example. Years ago we were just fine with their offerings. However, nowadays their burger lineup seems drab and disappointing compared to some other establishments. Whatever field your business is in, it’s best to stay abreast of what is hip and happening at any given moment, as that will help you retain and gain customers.

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6. They add incentives.

As a way to say “thank you,” many successful businesses have something akin to a loyalty program. Take Starbucks for example, where if you buy something on a daily basis, you will eventually have access to a bunch of perks (that include discounts and free drinks). You don’t want to bribe your customers, per se, but it’s always nice to give back a little bit. If you want your customers to be loyal to you, then you need to show some loyalty to them as well. A “thank you” can come in many forms as well — even a simple e-mail thanking a customer for their visit is a nice gesture, especially if you don’t have the resources to be giving out any freebies.

7.  They make their product both affordable and valuable.

In this day and age, running a business means catering to one of the fastest growing consumer bases — millennials. To capture that market, you’ll need to ensure that your product is reasonably priced and offers a lot to the customer. Sort of like Netflix, where you get so much for your $7.99 subscription that you almost feel like you’re ripping them off. Whatever your business is about, you’ll have to find that healthy balance where your customer feels like they are getting a lot, while all the while you’re still making a decent living. Not easy, but it’s one of the best ways to rapidly gain customers.

8. They use social media in a clever fashion.

Has anyone else followed Taco Bell’s Twitter account? The hilarious, sometimes self-deprecating nature of its tweets are great. Taco Bell does a perfect job of selling its product to its main customer base. Now, you don’t have to be as good as them, but you should try and acquire some kind of social media presence, especially if you want to touch base with the aforementioned millenials. Not only can social media be used as a way to advertise more cleverly, but you can also use it to communicate with your customers. It’s sort of like killing two birds with one stone!

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9. They have a smartphone app.

This section ties in to what I was talking about in regard to incentives above. With so many people tied to a smartphone or tablet these days, it’s crucial to get your business onto the iPhone App Store and Android’s Google Play. Through your app, you can offer loyalty rewards, and connect your customers to your social media accounts and other promotions. It’s the perfect way to tie several key aspects of the customer experience together!

10. They use gimmicks to build hype.

Can you say “McRib” with me? Or how about IHOP’s free pancake day? Or what about World of Warcraft’s yearly April Fools gags? All of these might seem to be superfluous things at first glance, but they all play a role in getting each of those companies extra business. There are certain things you can do to make your company stand out, whether it’s creating a satirical piece relating to the product you sell, or crafting a limited time product that is just crazy enough that people will feel a desperate inner need to go and buy it right then and there. Come on, we’ve all been there with the McRib. Don’t lie and tell me you haven’t.

Of course, you should keep the gimmicks to a minimum. All I am saying is that a few, well-timed, spaced out promotions like the ones laid out above just might give you more of a return on your investment than you initially bargained for.

Are you a business owner? What are some of the things you do to build brand loyalty and grow your customer base? Comment below!

Featured photo credit: Business School/University of Salford Press via flic.kr

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Published on September 18, 2018

17 Proven Tactics for Motivating Employees and Building a Stronger Team

17 Proven Tactics for Motivating Employees and Building a Stronger Team

Have there been instances when you noted a drop in your team’s productivity or observed a behavioral change in someone who used to be an excellent performer?

Before you blame the team for not being motivated enough or worse still, choose to ignore these warning signs, look inwards and ask yourself if YOU are doing enough to keep your team motivated in the first place.

Motivating employees is extremely crucial. As the leader of the pack, it is your responsibility to ensure each and every member of your team feels valued, driven and motivated.

After all, you cannot expect a bunch of disengaged and demotivated people to deliver results and grow your business, can you?

Here are 17 surefire tactics for motivating your employees and building a productive team:

1. Show your appreciation

In the whole race to achieve external business goals, leaders often forget to value their most important assets — their employees.

The least you can do to boost performance and morale is to appreciate your employees, recognize their efforts and give them credit when it is due.

Whether it’s sending a personalized note, recognizing achievements publicly during team huddles or even rewarding top performers at the end of every month, you will be surprised to see how these small acts of appreciation can go a long way.

2. Communicate effectively

Effective communication can do wonders in motivating employees. Who is a strong communicator? Someone who knows what they are talking about and are able to convey their message accurately.

Communication is a lot more than just language and talking. Factors such as eye contact, active listening, hand gestures and postures also say a lot about a person’s communication skills.

3. Be open to dialogue

Gone are the days when leading through fear and putting on the tough, distant leader act would work.

New age leadership is all about instilling trust by being accessible and encouraging discussions. Your team needs to feel comfortable speaking to you and you need to set the tone for such a camaraderie.

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In spite of having a busy schedule, you can still show you care through simple, effective acts.

For instance, having an open door policy, showing genuine interest while interacting with your employees or even greeting your team members helps breaking barriers and projects you as an accessible leader.

4. Provide constructive criticism

Giving negative feedback is always tricky — you don’t want to hurt feelings nor do you want the feedback to be taken lightly.

So, what do you do? The idea is to offer criticism such that it inspires change and delivers results.

Firstly, take criticism behind closed doors because nothing breaks self esteem the way calling out employees in public does.

Have a one-on-one discussion with the concerned person and make your feedback very specific. Be clear about your expectations and offer guidance on how they can improve.

Most importantly, give them the chance to explain their side of the story too instead of jumping to conclusions.

5. Conduct one-on-ones

Yes, you conduct weekly meetings with the team but how well do you know them on a personal level?

While you may think this isn’t an important practice to follow, it is one of the best ways to engage with your employees and identify what drives them.

Conduct a one-one-one session every month and use it to understand how your employees are doing and if they are facing any roadblocks.

More than reviewing performances, consider this as a relationship building tool to ensure you are aligned with your team and are working towards a shared, common goal.

6. Build training programs

In this ever-changing business landscape, it is important to ensure your employees are updated with the latest, relevant skills that can help boost productivity and performance.

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From imparting technical and soft skills to offering mentoring programs – investing in training and development significantly helps in motivating employees and keeps the learning going.

While conducting training programs, remember to keep them engaging and interactive. They need to ultimately drive value and reinforce learnings.

7. Offer growth opportunities

Every employee envisions a different career path for themselves and demotivation strikes the day they feel they have reached stagnation. As a leader, you need to first be aligned with their goals and offer ample growth opportunities that constantly keeps them engaged and motivated.

Growth opportunities go beyond just financial growth. While money is a huge driving factor, what makes most people tick is making progress in the company and going up the career ladder.

Being faced with new challenges and responsibilities lets them push the envelope and broaden their knowledge and skills.

8. Reward them

Go beyond verbal recognition and reward employees for their notable work. You can start an incentive program and reward top performers. This ensures increased productivity and brings out the best in them.

If you don’t have enough budgets for that, you can also reward top performers with movie tickets, a paid vacation or something as simple as giving them the option to work from home.

Rewarding employees promotes healthy competition and motivates them while meeting business goals.

9. Encourage team outings

Employee motivation also stems from how connected the team is. Invest time in team building because a team that works collaboratively is likely to deliver better results.

From bowling nights to hosting team dinners – team outings are a great way to get to know each other and bond. Assign someone from your team to be in charge of organizing these monthly outings and make sure you join them too!

10. Involve them

Involve your employees in decision making because when they are involved, they feel more valued and part of a larger cause.

Seek your team’s opinion and encourage healthy debates within the team. This boosts employee morale and challenges them to work harder as they know they are in a position to make an impact and will be taken seriously.

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11. Set meaningful goals

In the beginning of the financial year, make sure you sit down with each employee to set meaningful and realistic goals. The goal-setting conversation is an extremely crucial one and needs to be a two-way street.

Whether your employee feels burdened or doesn’t feel inspired enough by the assigned goals – this is the time to come to a consensus and assign goals derived from business objectives that foster individual development while keeping in mind their strengths and weaknesses.

12. Empower them

You cannot expect employees to be motivated for long if you micro manage the team and do all the talking.

Trust your employees and empower them to take decisions. Mistakes will happen but that is the only way they will learn.

Be open to discussions, delegate effectively, set your expectations and give your team the freedom to do it their way.

13. Deal with conflict

A conducive work environment is one wherein there is open communication and trust, but every once in a while, you do encounter people in the team who indulge in office politics and spread negativity.

How much ever fulfilled an employee feels with their work, gossiping co-workers are bound to ruin it for them. Workplace gossip if not tackled hampers productivity and soils working relations.

As a responsible leader, you need to maintain a conducive work environment and act as a mediator in such cases. Don’t be the leader who is locked up in his/her cabin and is unaware of what is brewing within the team.

14. Implement a flexible work culture

Flexible work cultures are a growing trend and are here to stay.

Whether it is offering flexible working hours or allowing employees to work from home once in a month – a flexible work culture promotes work-life balance and aids in employee satisfaction.

It shows that the management is sensitive to employees’ schedules and is thereby highly appreciated.

15. Host engaging activities

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy and we cannot agree more! So, why not devote one day of the week to employee engagement activities?

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From hosting baking competitions to introducing wellness programs in the office – let your team have some fun beyond work. This keeps the environment engaging, light-hearted and interesting, giving them all the more reason to look forward to coming to work.

16. Maintain a positive work space

Your employees spend more than half their day at work and in order to keep them energized and motivated, it is important to maintain a positive and inspiring work space.

Have a recreation center where employees can unwind after a hard day’s work, offer free snacks and beverages and invest in an open office design that promotes socializing and conversations.

These are simple yet effective ways to create a space your employees will love coming to.

17. Avoid discrimination

Any kind of discrimination, be it due to age, gender, religion or race hugely impacts employee motivation and performance.

In order to avoid such cases, you must lay down rules against discrimination and take strict action against accused employees. Lead by example and make sure no one in the team is a victim of bias and discrimination.

The bottom line

Don’t underestimate the power of motivating employees. Understand that the more engaged and motivated they are, the better their performance will be.

It is also a good idea to send out a survey and get feedback from your employees on the company culture, work environment and their motivation levels.

This will help you be more aligned with their expectations and further improve your efforts in building a stronger, engaged team.

Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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