When it comes to the health of our furry friends, we like to know that the care that they are receiving is personalized, thorough, and insightful. As a veterinarian, it’s up to you to provide that peace of mind to pet owners—both through the medical practices you employ and the way you organize, analyze, and conduct your business processes.
Of course, as a veterinarian, your main motivation to provide excellent services to your clients is your passion for helping sick and injured animals. However, adopting superior customer service tactics beyond the examination table can help grow your business as well. The success of a business, no matter the industry, can be measured wholly through its ability to not just acquire, but also to retain loyal customers.
So, how can generating a client base that trusts your business help you grow? Below are just a few of the benefits of building a loyal client base.
Repeat and Referral Business
In business, customer retention is king. It is a well-known fact that it costs more to sign on a new client than to keep on a client—about six to seven times more, in fact. Furthermore, even just a small uptick in retention of clients—about 5 percent—can help you raise your profits up to 95 percent. As you can see, it is in your best interest to focus on retaining rather than seeking out new business.
Why is it more cost-effective to retain customers? Repeat customers are more familiar with your business and are therefore much more inclined to spend more per transaction. Conversely, a new customer, especially with a small company with little brand recognition, can see their first transaction has a bit of a risk and typically won’t spend as much. Repeat customers that are satisfied with your product or service are more likely to refer others to your business, which can help alleviate the perception of risk from the first-time buyer.
When analyzing your business for its successes and failures, look to your repeat customers for guidance. Survey your client base for likes and dislikes, and focus on improving the aspects of your business that repeat customers enjoy. Don’t neglect the customers that you fail to retain, though. Reach out to them and see what caused them to leave and work on these problem areas, too.
Loyalty Marketing and Offerings
A business is only as good as its marketing efforts. The ability to build buyer personas, garner brand recognition, and effectively position your brand to the correct audiences is a cornerstone of your success. And the more information you can get from existing customers, the better.
Customer loyalty marketing is one of the most powerful tools you have in your arsenal of marketing tactics. By comparing what you already know about your loyal customer base—such as buying behaviors and pain points—with observed empirical data, you can continue to expand on and fine-tune what’s working in your marketing endeavors.
Another great tool within customer loyalty marketing is the use of promotional or incentivizing programs. This strategy will augment customer interaction with your brand as well as increase the overall value for the customer. Some examples of this include the following:
- Limited-time only promotions: Offer a one-time campaign to encourage a surge of brand interaction (acquisition).
- Rewards for purchase: Incentivize frequent visits in order to manifest value (growth).
- Points-based rewards program: Enroll clients in a points-based system to ensure future brand interaction (retention).
Not to mention customer loyalty marketing is by far your most cost-effective form of marketing, which brings us to the next point.
Increased Revenue per Customer
As we’ve said, it is far more costly to sign on a new customer than it is to continue business with a returned customer. It is in your best interest to focus your endeavors on the audience that you know is loyal to you.
The importance of this can be explained through a concept developed by Italian economist Vilfredo Pareto. He discovered that 80 percent of the land in Italy was owned by 20 percent of the population. Pareto’s discovery has since been extrapolated into a fundamental business theory, now referred to as the Pareto Principle or the “80/20 Rule.” It’s simple but profound: 80 percent of all revenue from your business comes from 20 percent of the customers. That is, the top 20th percentile of your customers are your big buyers.
Once you identify what it is those top paying and loyal customers like, you can then apply the principles to your business practices—if you figure out what 20 percent of your time you are using to produce 80 percent of the revenue, you can then put more effort into those practices, increasing your revenue per customer.
You want to hear from your customers about their experience with your business. It is, hands down, the easiest way to identify what is working and what isn’t in your business. And it shouldn’t be a surprise that customers who feel a connection to a brand might be more willing to lend commentary to you, especially when it comes to caring for their pets.
Simply asking for customer feedback helps, too. A study conducted by Dr. Paul Dholakia and published in the Harvard Business Review revealed some shocking discoveries about customer loyalty and feedback. The research consisted of 2,000 participants split almost evenly into two groups. One group was given a ten-minute phone survey about a company, and the other one wasn’t. The participant’s buying behaviors were monitored over a year-long period.
The customers that were surveyed were more than three times as likely to have opened new accounts, were less than half as likely to have defected from the brand, and were more profitable than the customers who hadn’t been surveyed. No other marketing tactics were used on either group aside from the 10-minute phone survey. Turns out, customers enjoy talking about what they like and don’t like about a company and are more likely to stay with a brand who listens to their comments and concerns. All you have to do is ask!
Customer loyalty is the key to the continued success of your business and the health of the pets you treat. You’ve found your way into a connection with this group of people who trust your brand; why not just fine-tune and build upon that established success? Focus on your returning customers as the foundation. Adjust your marketing to find more like-minded customers. Ask them for their feedback. You’ll find that you see more of the same pets more often, with new clients returning and helping your business to boom.