Acquiring new customers is just the first step in building a successful business.

It’s the second step, the step after a customer walks through your doors for the first time, when the real battle begins. A battle for mind-share, a battle for wallet, a battle for word-of-mouth, a battle for retention. This is the pivotal moment when you must ensure they come back and spend again. Here’s how:

Learn Who Your Customers Are

Getting to know your customers is key. Why are they coming into your business? What attracted them that very first time? What need do you fulfill for them? Understanding your customers’ motives is the first step in giving them a reason to come back more often. Take the time to engage your customers in conversation. You’ll be amazed what you’ll learn.

Don’t Be Pushy

If you can relate to your customers and talk to them in a way that makes them feel comfortable, they will be much more willing to bring out their wallets. If you are forceful and aggressive, it will have a negative impact on how the customer approaches his/her buying decision — and people spend less when they are in a bad mood. So, foster open and honest relationships with customers the second they walk into your business. Don’t sell, relate.

Focus on Creating Lifelong Customers

This stat gets thrown around a lot, but it’s true: 20% of your customers will account for 80% of all of your turnover. Your mission is to identify and engage those really valuable customers and get them coming back again and again. Make them feel valued and appreciated in-store, reward them for repeat purchases with loyalty programs and engage them with your brand through social media and email marketing. Special ‘valued customer’ events are also really useful in this regard.

Control The Word of Mouth

It’s important to understand that customers are always talking. Be it positive or negative, they’re talking. So first off, make sure you are providing an experience that people want to say nice things about. They may not go write a Yelp review or post a glowing status to their friends on Facebook, but if they do, you want them to only have good things to say. Encouraging Word of Mouth is about creating an experience that is unforgettable. Don’t be afraid to be different and do something that customers remember for a long time. (Hint: this normally starts with unbelievably positive customer service).

In the same vein, don’t undervalue the importance of social media. Respond appropriately and positively to reviews of your business, and understand that people will always want to vent about a negative experience. If you can proactively follow up with your customers online, no matter how good or bad their initial experience, the chance that they will come back to spend more at your business increases greatly.

Be Clean

Lastly but perhaps most importantly, make your store a place that people want to return to! Have a clean and aesthetically pleasing business environment (both online and offline). You could be the most generous and honest business owner there is, but if you do not create an inviting atmosphere for your customers, not only will they not return, but I promise they will be much less inclined to make large purchases in-store.

About the Author

Paul Nugent is a small business advocate, and Head of Marketing at ShopKeep point of sale’s UK headquarters. Paul uses his background in the startup space, along with his POS system expertise, to allow small business owners to make informed decisions within their specific budgets.