By Neha Gupta

Customers are the biggest assets any company can own and like any other assets, you must invest in them and protect them at all costs. These assets serve as a dividing line which separates flourishing businesses from failing ones. Especially small businesses, for whom maintaining a loyal customer base can be a matter of life and death if not handled carefully.

Providing your customers with a quality service will result in a number of benefits such as repeat customers, more sales and better cash flow, but neglecting your customers will result in a damaged reputation, unconverted leads, reduced customer lifetime value, losing your best employees and — at the end — entering a profit-sucking cycle.

Now that we know of the consequences of bad customer service to the business, let’s find out what causes small businesses to lose their customers and what precautions we should take beforehand in order to deter it from happening.

1. Differentiating Too Much Between New and Existing Customers

It’s always much costlier to obtain new customers than to retain existing ones, small businesses should keep this in mind. Think hard before offering the discounts and incentives to your new customers because your existing ones will notice this act of differentiation on your part which in turn might prompt them to switch to the competition.

2. Focusing on Price Rather Than Quality

Always remember, no matter how low you keep the price of your products by squeezing your margins, there is always someone somewhere planning to steal your customers through lower prices. A larger player will easily undercut you to steal your customers.

Instead, you should always aim for providing the best value for your product. The price tag is not the only way for your customers to derive value, other ways include service, accessibility, schedule and even opening hours.

3. Ignoring Staff Issues

Customer satisfaction goes hand-in-hand with employee satisfaction. Provide your employees with an engaging environment to work from, guidelines and policies also help to maintain consistent service levels and standardized problem resolutions.

While making judgement calls to resolve issues, your employees must feel empowered. And remember, happy employees lead to happy customers.

4. Providing Bad Customer Service

We mentioned this earlier, but it’s worth repeating because it’s a big one. Consumers expectations regarding customer service have skyrocketed in the recent times, thanks to e-commerce giants such as Amazon and Flipkart for setting the bar high, now small businesses must adapt in order to stay competitive.

Your primary focus should be on providing excellent customer service via consistency, reliability and responsiveness. It also helps to greet your customers with a friendly smile and a positive attitude.

5. Not Rewarding Your Loyal Customers

Rewarding your loyal customers is something every business (whether large or small) should aim for. Keep in mind, that its’s not quite the same things as over-differentiation, as mentioned in item #1. There is a number of ways you can reward your customers such as featuring your customer’s success stories, creating a customer birthday program, showing gratitude for their feedback, implementing the features they suggested, etc.

Remember, if customers feel that they aren’t getting the best value by being loyal to your company, they won’t hesitate to switch over to your competition.

A business’s success or failure depends on a number of factors, however, compared to everything else, none matter more than maintaining a loyal customer base because your company’s very existence may depend on it.