How to Reward Returning Customers

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reward returning customers

Have you ever had this experience: You see an ad or offer for some amazing deal for a company of which you’re a longtime customer—something big, like “50 percent off a year’s membership.” Wow, you want to take advantage of that! But you can’t because there’s only one catch: The offer is for new customers only. “Hmph,” you think. “What am I, chopped liver?”

Many small businesses make the mistake of ignoring their biggest source of income: recurring customers. OK, maybe not “ignoring” them completely, but giving them the short end of the stick when it comes to attention, special offers and prime treatment.

It’s natural that getting new customers should be a key part of your business strategy. After all, every company needs new business in the pipeline to survive and grow. But the bulk of your time and attention should go to your existing customers. Why? Here are just a few reasons:

  • They’re already loyal customers.
  • It costs less to keep them satisfied (and buying) than it does to replace them.
  • Keep them happy and they’ll tell friends about your business.

What can you do to provide better treatment for your returning customers? Here are some ideas:

  • Hold special sales or events just for loyal customers.
  • Offer them early access to new merchandise or services.
  • Give them the chance to lock in current prices for the coming year or when they renew.
  • Use automation tools such as a CRM system to track details about your customers so you can personalize your customer service, offers and interactions. You can even greet them appropriately when they call your business!
  • Use technology that creates a record of customer service interactions so that when recurring customers contact you with problems, you can quickly access their histories.
  • Investigate loyalty programs for small businesses. There are many affordable options that integrate with your marketing, enabling more targeted outreach to returning customers.

It’s OK to create special offers and deals for new customers only—just be sure you provide equivalent or better rewards for customers who have shown their loyalty to your business.

Customer Loyalty Photo via Shutterstock

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Rieva Lesonsky Rieva Lesonsky is a Columnist for Small Business Trends covering employment, retail trends and women in business. She is CEO of GrowBiz Media, a media company that helps entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses. Visit her blog, SmallBizDaily, to get the scoop on business trends and free TrendCast reports.

5 Reactions
  1. Would love to see a post on loyalty programs and how small businesses can make them work with very little time and technology.

  2. In my experience, it helps to have a special coupon for loyal customers. You can do this by e-mailing them about a special discount code that only applies to them. They’ll be happy to use that every time they order.

  3. Rieva,

    Could you mention some small business companies that have good at rewarding returning customers? I am thinking of giving out small tea samples to my returning customers, when I start with my hobby tea business in the future

  4. Businesses these days need to be able to reach their target audience where ever they are. Not everyone checks their Facebook, Twitter or email as often as they check their phone for text. Text marketing is becoming one of the most effective methods for businesses to promote products and services because it utilizes the device that everyone uses most, mobile phones.