Building long-term relationships with your customers should be your primary goal because, as most people know, an existing customer is more valuable than the new customers you’re trying to attract. The trust you develop with people is one of your business’s chief assets. Long-term customers not only  support your bottom line, they will do some of your marketing for you—spreading the word about you to others. It pays, therefore, to take a look at what might be causing those long-termers to stay with you, so that you can do more of it, whatever it is. The article offers seven areas to look at:

1) Relationships must be first.  You must show genuine interest in a customer beyond his or her wallet. One way to do this is to assume you’ll be dealing with him or her more than once. Your goal is to build a lasting relationship

2) Customer service must be excellent. If you fail in just one area, a customer will leave you. If you excel, a customer will tell others. Put on an attitude of service at all times.

3) Treat your employees well. Employees will most likely treat your customers the way you treat your employees. In other words, what goes around, comes around. Thank and recognize your employees and treat them well. Always.

4) Personalize it. You need to be aware of the special needs one particular customer might have. A one-size-fits-all approach does not work in today’s marketplace. Listen to what each customer wants and needs. Learn their names.

5) Reward loyalty: Offer something unique to the customers who are already with you. Don’t neglect them over your efforts to attract new customers. Loyalty cards and programs are fine; offer discounts, etc. and, as noted in #4 above, personalize it whenever possible.

6) Consistency and reliability are key. It doesn’t take much for a customer to turn away from you when a problem relates to delivery or hidden fees. Studies show those are key areas for customer disappointment. Do it right and well, always.

7) Stay in touch. Using email and social media, plus whatever other personal means of communication fits your business model, will help you keep your loyal customers.  It’s keep the lines of communication open and that’s what any solid relationship is built on.