Creating brand loyalty is a difficult thing to do for a small business owner. Not only are your goods and services mostly untested in the minds of consumers, but you have to compete with companies that have spent years building their reputations and customer relationships. It’s tough to break into any industry, but that doesn’t stop small businesses from trying.

Some marketers like to think that there is some magical formula for grabbing people’s attention and inspiring brand loyalty, but the truth is that the best way to attract customers and keep them coming back is through customer service. That’s how the most successful companies in the world became so successful, and it’s the best way for even small startup businesses to stay afloat.

Here are just five ways you can use great customer service to create brand loyalty:

Create a Sense of Belonging

One of the keys to great customer service is to make sure customers feel comfortable and welcome in a store. How this is done will depend on what your business has to offer, but it usually involves connecting with the local community. For example, the grocery store chain Trader Joe’s is known for listening to its customers and stocking items that they request. Even if it doesn’t have a gigantic selection compared to other stores, Trader Joe’s makes it clear that they listen to their customers and gives them what they want.

Honor Customer Requests as Often as Possible

It’s impossible to please everybody, but a customer who isn’t pleased with your business will still appreciate anything you can do to honor their requests and address their complaints. The few moments it takes you to go out of your way and make them feel appreciated will help build the idea of brand loyalty to your company. Never just write off a customer or their requests as irrational; listen to what they have to say and make it clear that you’re trying to give them what they want.

Be an Authoritative Source of Information

Even if you’re not actively selling your goods and services, you should be willing to provide advice to customers who ask for it. This is important for home improvement companies such as Lowe’s Home Improvement who always provide advice to people asking for help on their projects. You may not make a sale, but the fact that you know what you are talking about and are willing to share your wisdom will go a long way towards having a loyal customer in the future.

Have a Good Website

A lot of business is done online these days, which means you need to have a great website for your customers. A great website will be functional, attractive and easy to navigate. That may sound obvious, but there are plenty of “professional” sites that cannot get these requirements right. Keep your website updated as well; a neglected site with outdated information is quickly forgotten but an interesting up-to-date site will encourage brand loyalty.

Ask for Client Feedback

Part of listening to your clients and honoring their requests is asking for feedback whenever possible. Not only will this help you improve your business, but it will send a message to your customers that you are willing to listen to them and take what they have to say to heart. Collecting and acting on clients feedback is a key way to build brand loyalty for your business and keep your regulars coming back.

What do you do to encourage brand loyalty with your target audience? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comment section below!