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Strategies for developing and retaining loyal customers

Unmatched quality – In this intensely competitive global business environment, quality goods and services are a prerequisite for success. According to one marketing axiom, the worst of all marketing catastrophes is to have great advertising and a poor-quality product. Customers have come to expect and demand quality goods and services, and those businesses that provide them constantly have a distinct competitive benefit. Today, quality is more than just a slogan posted on the company bulletin board; world-class companies treat quality as a strategic objective— an essential part of a company’s strategy and culture. This philosophy is called total quality management (TQM)—quality not just in the product or service itself but also in every feature of the business and its relationship with the customer and continuous improvement in the quality delivered to customers.

Innovation – Innovation is the key to future success. Markets change too quickly and competitors move too fast for a small company to stand still and remain competitive. Because they cannot outspend their larger rivals, small companies often turn to superior innovation as the way to gain a competitive edge. Innovation is one of the hallmarks of entrepreneurs, and it shows up in the new products, unique techniques, and unusual marketing approaches they introduce. Despite their limited resources, small businesses frequently are leaders in innovation.

Offering convenience – In this busy, fast-paced world of dual-career couples and lengthy commutes to and from work, customers increasingly are looking for convenience. Several studies have found that customers rank easy access to goods and services at the top of their purchase criteria. Unfortunately, too few businesses deliver ad- equate levels of convenience, and they fail to attract and retain customers.

Speedy delivery – Technology, particularly the Internet, has changed the pace of business so dramatically that speed has become a major competitive weapon. Today’s customers expect businesses to serve them at the speed of light! Providing a quality product at a reasonable price once was sufficient to keep customers happy, but that is not enough for modern customers who can find dozens of comparable products with a just few mouse clicks. Customers become disgruntled when companies fail to show respect for their busy schedules and corresponding lack of time. At global companies, speed reigns. They recognise that reducing the time it takes to develop, design, manufacture, and deliver a product reduces costs, increases quality, improves customer satisfaction, and boosts market share.

Small companies do not have the marketing budgets of their larger rivals, but that does not make them not to realise their dream of making big. With clever and innovative strategies, they can develop and retain loyal customers.

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