One of the hardest things for small business owners to do during the pandemic is to bring customers in and then get those customers to come back. Before the pandemic, being found by customers via Google search was important, but that importance has increased tenfold as small business owners try to keep up through this time.

Richard Shapiro, founder and president of The Center For Client Retention, gave small business owners five tips to help them get their customers to come back—and keep them coming back during his #BizHackLive event

“Customers are people first, customers second,” Richard Shapiro said during his #BizHackLive webinar “5 Tips to Get Your Customers to Come Back.” “Customers are less loyal, they have more options, and there are so many vehicles for getting new customers through the door that cost a bit of money. That money is essentially going down the drain if you do not have a proactive plan in place for retaining your customers.”

For Shapiro’s tips on how to get your customers to come back, keep reading.

TLDR: The 5 Tips To Get Your Customers To Come Back

Small business owners must welcome customers into their store or onto their website as you would welcome people into your home. The importance of how to create an emotional bond with each customer from the outset has never been greater. Here are five tips on how to get your customers to come back.

Tip 1: Engage With Your Customer

Tip 2: Listen To The Customer

Tip 3: Ask Questions

Tip 4: Retention Is Key

Tip 5: Watch The Word ‘No’

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Engage With Your Customer

Successful salespeople understand that they need to connect with their customers personally before they can sell them anything. Shapiro said this is an important strategy.

“All marketing is person-to-person, no matter what kind of service or product you offer,” he said.

He highlighted two real-life case studies: The American Heart Association and Mitchell Family Stores. The American Heart Association’s website has a donation call-out at the top of its page.

“They share nothing about their organization, research, how they handle their funds, etc.,” Shapiro said. “There is nothing to engage a potential donor which initially closes the door to any potential connection.”

On the other hand, Mitchell Family Stores is a luxury retailer with a site that welcomes engagement at first glance. Visitors can choose a style advisor whom they would like to work with, read a quick bio on the chosen stylist, and make a purchasing decision. 

“This is the right way to create a one-to-one relationship,” Shapiro said. “People are hungry for human-to-human interaction.

Listen To The Customer

Shapiro encouraged business owners to listen for what he calls “magic phrases,” statements that people make that allow a salesperson to build a relationship with the customer through learning more about him or her.

“Your phone is the most valuable tool that you have in your toolbox as a business owner,” he said. “Use your phone to create personal connections.”

TIP: Conduct interviews with your customers. Importantly, never call this a customer survey. Make sure to ask the right questions in the right order to glean impactful insights.

Ask Questions

Choose your words carefully to build relationships with potential customers. Say something like, “I can help you with that, but do you mind if I ask you a few questions?” This will allow you to connect with your customer emotionally and better understand how you can serve him or her.

“Never ask, ‘Do you have any other questions?’ This makes it seem like you only have time for one more question,” Shapiro said. “ ‘What other questions do you have?’ welcomes a few more questions that will help you land more business or better service a customer.”

Retention Is Key

Inviting the customer to return is the key to retaining customers, so say “I want to see you again” rather than “please come back.”

Shapiro likened this to going on a date and said that if you don’t hear “I would like to see you again” at the end of a date, you tend to think that the other person doesn’t want to see you again, and you’d probably be right.

It works the same way in business, he said. If you have successfully established a connection with your customer, you’ll want to see them again to show them you care about them as a person. You could ask how the client’s daughter’s wedding went or how his or her vacation was. Paying attention to personal details is how you continue your relationship with the customer.

Watch The Word ‘No’

Shapiro said that instead of saying no to a customer, business owners should always use phrases like “let me check” or “let me get back to you.”

“People do not like to be told no. Never say no right off the bat,” he said. “Even if you are the owner of your business, an employee might have figured out something you haven’t.”

It’s not just about going up the ladder. It’s about going down, too. Even the answer ultimately ends up being no, customers will appreciate the extra effort you took to solve the problem.

Want more tips? On Wednesdays, join BizHack Academy for our FREE #BizHackLive Webinars and hear experts discuss the latest and best small business marketing strategies. For a list of upcoming events, click here.