To grow a business, often businesses are so focused on making sales and pursuing bigger clients that they forget to show appreciation for those that have got them thus far. Too often, says Carl Reader, I see businesses making the rookie error of neglecting clients once they’ve got their business, concentrating on acquiring new clients instead of encouraging and maintaining loyalty.

Of course new customers are important, but it is also vital to invest some of your marketing budget in keeping a core group of clients happy. It’s one of the undeniable keys to maintaining a thriving business - a steady customer base. Attracting new customers costs far more in terms of time and money than maintaining relationships with existing ones. Make sure you give loyalty the time and investment it deserves. Here’s my top tips to keep your current clients coming back.

  • Communication – it goes both ways.
It’s important to reach out to the clients you already have, to add value, let them know you care, and to let them reach out to you, too. Keep them updated - let them know what you are doing for them, honour any promises you make, and be considerate of their time and concerns. Make sure clients can easily communicate with you if needed, and pay close attention to client concerns to ensure they are listened to. This can help you improve your service, as well as resolving any client issues.

Social media makes maintaining contact inexpensive and easy in many situations, but don’t forget to make use of other media too – emails, cards, phone calls…the list goes on. It’s not about spamming them; it doesn’t have to be advertising all the time. Share things that your clients might enjoy or find interesting or helpful, such as translating how industry changes will affect them or putting together some useful tips, to add value to your clients.

  • Go the extra mile.
Customer service, customer service, customer service. And then more excellent customer service. Do a good job, meet your clients’ needs, and then do more – and all with a smile. Where possible, include a personal touch – people respond better to people than to automation. Offer a little extra, too. Special offers aren’t just for new customers. Current customers deserve an incentive to use your services as well. Whether that’s a loyalty/reward scheme, a gift or a special offer, you can use incentives to promote new products or services, upsell or even boost business during a slower period. Your customers are your best resource; make them feel special and reward them for choosing (and continuing to choose) you.
  • Look after your employees too.
Your employees should be the best advert for your business. Your reputation is hugely reliant on your products and service. The better these are, the better your reputation will be – and the more likely customers will choose you over a competitor again. Positive customer experiences often result in repeat business. Provide training to ensure best practice, foster a positive working environment and promote excellence (and demonstrate this) within your business, and this will transfer through your team to your clients.

Carl Reader, author of The Start Up Coach, co-owner of