Evolution is the key to retaining loyalty

Help your business grow and develop to ensure your customer base grows with you, writes Manar Al Hinai.

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I recently experienced a rather weird scenario.

I woke up one morning and noticed my room needed to be repainted. The colour that was once bright had lost its shine and there were minor cracks on the wall. It seemed strange as I spend every day in that room and had never picked up on this before. That day, however, my room looked completely different to me.

I asked myself why I had never noticed this before. And then it hit me. It was because I was wearing contact lenses. My eyesight is not quite perfect. Although I can get away most of the day without wearing glasses, putting them on makes a huge difference, especially when I drive at night. My brother often teased me about it, especially if I asked him to read signboards that were far away when we were out and about.

“Wear your glasses,” he’d tell me.

“They don’t look great,” I’d reply.

Contact lenses were not the solution either. I could not get used to them and they took a few extra minutes to put in – time I could not be bothered to spare. Anyhow, I finally gave in and, consequently, the world came into a new perspective. I then wondered why I had not done this sooner.

As I became accustomed to a brighter, higher quality vision, it was hard to imagine going back to the eyesight I had before. What was once acceptable was no longer at all.

My story reminded me of a key aspect of marketing a business that many entrepreneurs overlook.

Just because a product or service is faring well in the marketplace today does not mean that you should sit back and do nothing. The business world evolves every day. Your customers today may not be the same tomorrow. If you lose them, it may be hard to win them back.

A friend of mine would often argue: “If it’s not broken why fix it?” She used to manage a small clothing business in Bahrain.

Her first collection was extremely popular and her line was picked up by a number of boutiques. But she did not evolve her designs any further, refusing to keep up with the latest fashion trends or integrate them into her work.

Instead she stuck to her tried and tested formula, continuing to produce the same line of clothing with minor variations. Soon enough, the boutiques she worked with cancelled their consignment agreement and stopped submitting new orders. She was devastated, and to avoid damaging her business any further, she lowered her prices. It worked for a while but eventually she closed the enterprise down.

A dentist I used to visit had a similar philosophy. His clinic was once the go-to place in Abu Dhabi but it’s not so any more. He never developed the business; during a recent visit with a friend, nothing had changed since my last visit seven years ago. He did not offer the latest in cosmetic dentistry – something his fellow competitors did – and by not doing so many of his customers took their business elsewhere.

This takes me to my next point. Use your customer’s loyalty and enthusiasm for your brand to help develop it further. You can do this by involving them in the process. Make them feel like it is their brand as much as it is yours. If you own an eatery, then ask your customers what they would like added to the menu.

Yes, the soul of your business should remain the same, but ignoring market trends could cost you customers.

By continuously developing and evolving, not only will you retain your current customers but you will also attract new ones.

Manar Al Hinai is an award-winning Emirati writer and communications consultant based in Abu Dhabi. Twitter: @manar_alhinai.

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