THE BLOG
10/28/2014 02:57 pm ET Updated Dec 28, 2014

Love 'Em or Lose 'Em: How to Get Your Best Clients to Stay

As a small business owner, one of your top priorities should be client retention. Why? Because getting good clients to stay will increase your profits and ensure your business has long-term sustainability.

Unfortunately, with hundreds of competitors just a Google search away, it's more challenging than ever before to keep your customers loyal. You can compete on only so many factors - price, quality, and service are the top three.

Someone can always beat your price, and today, many consumers are relying less on price to make a buying decision. Quality depends on what product or service you're offering - for some people, quality matters, and for others, it doesn't.

The one thing your competitors can't take away is the relationship you have with your prospects and clients. Here are my top 3 strategies to get your clients to stay with you:

1. Make client experience a main priority. "Wow" client service isn't just for monster brands like Zappos or Amazon. As a small business owner or solopreneur, you can absolutely wow your clients with incredible service that keeps them happy and encourages them to stay.

To begin, identify what you want your clients to experience. Think about your own experiences as a customer or client. What experiences really impressed you? When you consider experiences you had that weren't so great, what would you have done differently to remedy the situation?

Then, set goals to get your systems and staff in alignment with this big picture experience. As you set goals, remember that there is a difference between perfection and excellence.

You may be tempted to strive for perfection - but I want you strive for excellence. Edwin Bliss, author of Getting Things Done, says, "The pursuit of excellence is gratifying and healthy. The pursuit of perfection is frustrating, neurotic, and a terrible waste of time."

2. Leverage the little things. The little things you do are the big things to your clients, so leverage them to create raving fans. For example, send welcome notes, birthday cards, and anniversary cards. Implement a 24-hour response policy and offer perks and bonuses.

One of the "little things" that can make a big difference to your clients is a willingness to admit you made a mistake. No one is perfect - everyone makes mistakes from time to time. Take responsibility and be ready to offer a solution when something falls short of expectations.

These little things will have a big impact on your clients by inspiring them to stay with you - and to refer their friends, family and colleagues.

3. Focus on the relationship. Look at your clients as people, not dollar signs. Create a dialogue with your clients/customers by asking for feedback and making sure they're satisfied. Encourage your customers to share their experiences with you - so you know what's working and what still needs improvement.

If your clients complain about something or come to you with a problem, earn their trust by dealing with it right away. And remember, while you're building these relationships, you're also building unrivaled brand loyalty.

I want to hear from you! What's your #1 strategy for retaining great customers? Leave your answer in the comment box below!