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The key to getting and holding on to customers in the digital age 

· customer service,customer loyalty,small business,retaining customers,small business tips

By Heidi Wilcox

There is enough business for everyone! Yes, Amazon is the massive competitor for most of us. But why? Is it the lack of attention, the ever-changing sales rep, or the lack of respect to the customer once they start buying from us? These issues (and more) make our current customers or prospects turn to an impersonal source and then dedicate their dollars to it rather than deal with a sales person or local company. It has become too much of a headache.

For small businesses it is more important than ever to build relationships based on customer service. Price points matter less when you get great service. This is the key to getting and holding on to customers in the digital age.

There are three basic ways to build rapport with customers according to Selling Power Editors:*

1. Match your customer’s style. Each of my customers and/or prospects are unique. I make sure to pay attention to how they like to communicate. Do they prefer an email or a phone call? Do they like to get to the point, or do they like when I chat with them for a while about the weather or how busy they are? Do they like to joke around or do they like to be serious and stick to business? You get the point.

customer service, small business, building customer loyalty

2. Trust builds rapport. Obviously! Do what you say you are going to do. This will give you much more wiggle room when you can’t necessarily give the same price or extra benefits a competitor may be able to do. Most people in general have a small circle they trust and you want to get into that circle. We all know our customers are valuable and important, so lets treat them that way. Then, you will be the first go-to when your service is needed. Once you are in their circle of trust you can ask for referrals too.

3. Practice reciprocity. Treat others the way you want to be treated. Say thank you and that you appreciate their continued business or partnership more often. Pay attention to find out little things about them. What do they like to do? Do they drink coffee? Do they have kids? Do they like chocolate? Where do they like to have lunch? Stop in to see them and give them a gift card to the local coffee house, or to an ice cream shop so they can treat their kids. Refer someone to them. Whatever it is that you learn about them, show a personal touch and it will be remembered and appreciated.

customer service, small business, customer loyalty, building customer loyalty

Another key initiative to achieve the customer service standard that is expected from a live person, is to hold on to your good employees who have those best relationships with your customers. That is a must! High salaries can be a struggle for small businesses so look at other ways you can compensate your key employees. Some examples include extra time off, a longer lunch break, flexibility for kids’ school schedules, work from home, or a quarterly bonus structure built on new business or upsells. Ask your employees what they would like. You never know what or how simple of a reward it may take to keep your employees satisfied, and in turn, your customers happy and loyal.

Heidi Wilcox is the Strategic Market Development Director at Excelerate America, a 2nd stage business accelerator that helps small businesses excel and grow in the digital economy. She'd love to hear how you build rapport with your customers and nurture those relationships in the new digital economy. You can email Heidi anytime at


*Selling Power Editors (2011, April 1). Three Basic Ways to Build Rapport with Customers. Retrieved from

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