If you own a small business, one of the first major milestones is getting customers to like and pay for your product or service. But a one-time hit is not what will keep the business afloat. You need repeat customers who want to stick around as much as you want them to. To keep customers coming back time and time again takes a plan, not just a prayer. These important strategies will let your customers know you care about their overall satisfaction and value their time and money. The customer may always be right, but they'll know you're doing right by them too.

Get Down to a Personal Level

Customers want to feel important. Otherwise, why should they choose your company over a competitor's? In this age of computers and robots, a human connection pulls at the heartstrings. As Small Business Computing notes, "When customers receive a more personal customer experience they can develop a hard to break emotional attachment to the business." And Entrepreneur says, "Companies need to see their customers as people not data points."

This can be a money-maker for the business. Along with the repeat customer, you may find this customer willing to spend more with you too. Small Business Computing posted a study from the Journal of Applied Social Psychology that found, "Waiters were able to increase their tips by 23 percent by carrying out a simple act of returning to a table with a second set of mints. This left the customer satisfied enough to leave a bigger tip." The personal care and attention made all the difference.

American Express reminds small business owners to treat everybody as individuals. "In a small shop, you can go as far as keeping notes about a customer's likes, dislikes and family so you can ask about them the next time you see the customer. Something as simple as keeping track of how long they've been your customer—and mentioning it with a thank you—shows you view them as more than just a note in your profit-and-loss report."

Customizing and tailoring to a customer's desires is imperative as well. Entrepreneur notes that "A 2013 Bain & Co. survey found that 25-30 percent of consumers want to customize their purchases. If 25 percent of online sales of footwear were customized, that would equate to a market of $2 billion per year."

Not to mention, allowing a customer to customize gives new ideas to a company that can increase sales from other consumers who also become fond of the product or service addition. Allow your customers to work for you in a sense!

Get Feedback

Your customers' response to your business is everything. Whether the feedback is positive or negative, constructive or potentially destructive, you need to know what's on their minds in order to keep chugging along with the good stuff and make changes where there's room for improvement.

Vertical Response notes, "Asking for feedback about a customer's experience or product quality shows that you're engaged in your business and looking for ways to improve. You should consider sending a satisfaction survey directly to your customers. Not only will you get valuable feedback to help you make improvements to your business, but it keeps your business top of mind with customers." In addition, be sure to keep on top of review sites where customers can leave comments about your business. A social media or communications employee should comb such pages daily and respond promptly to show your company is on the ball and available to help.

Even if you think you're doing a good job getting your customers' point of view, there's always room for more feedback. All perspectives are valid and can only help your business better itself. In fact, as per American Express, "A recent Harvard Management survey found that 80 percent of companies believed they offered above-average customer service. Just 8 percent of customers of those companies agreed. The last thing you want is a good customer who's silently seething over something you don't know about. Be prepared to handle any complaints you find quickly and in good faith."

Feedback keeps a business on its toes and shows the customer you care about their wants and needs. If customers offer advice and it's ignored, they'll find another company to do business with. Simple as that.

Stay Connected

Just because the customer has left the shop, made an online purchase, or utilized your service doesn't mean the transaction is over. You want a repeat customer, not a "one and done" relationship. That's why keeping connected regularly is the way to keep customers engaged.

"Reach out to your customers on a regular basis. Whether it's a newsletter, coupon, or an event invitation, customers want to hear from you about new products, services, discounts or events," notes Vertical Response. Stay on top of your social media pages as well with updates about the business, sales, new products, and even entertaining posts to keep your fans interested in checking in on your pages just for fun.

Small Business Computing adds, "Digital marketing represents a greater chunk of the market now, and the unrelenting popularity of smartphones means that people are more likely to get their information from a mobile device. Collecting customer information lets you continue to nurture the customer relationship long after the first sale."

This means texting special offers and emailing with a smartphone interface in mind to keep your business on your customers' minds even when they're not making a purchase at the moment. Even a call to check in, depending on the nature of your business, is appreciated. Huffington Post reminds us, "Business relationships are just like any other relationship. They require effort to maintain and they must be mutually beneficial. And don't just call about business; ask about vacation plans and the kids. Be willing to give, share and support, not just try to go in for the up-sell." This non-salesy approach puts a customer at ease and they won't dread that every point of contact is a push to purchase. The true relationship builds trust, and when it is time for them to spend money, your company will be the first choice.

Keep things fresh, loyal, unique, and honest. Customers know when they are being taken for granted and when they are truly appreciated. Simple steps like these not only put a smile on the faces of your customers, but they will have them returning again and again – putting a smile on your face too!
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I thought I had a pretty good handle on my finances out of school. I worked several jobs while attending university and had little to no problem managing my income. However, once I graduated, I realized how much more complicated personal accounting could really be.

There were so many variables I needed to keep track of. Biweekly bills, monthly charges, and general necessities amounted to a heap of confusing numbers that were often impossible to decipher. The funniest part was that I was actually trying to do this by hand (I don't know what I was trying to prove to myself, either).

After messing up for the 17th time, I decided to give Microsoft Excel a shot. I used Excel a bit in school and I knew all the big-wig finance people used it, so what could I possibly have to lose? The answer is about six hours of my precious time. Excel isn't much of an improvement over handwriting and it's still dependent on the user to manually input all of the information. It's like doing everything by hand with the slightest help, meaning that it still required a tremendous amount of time and concentration. Well that was all for nothing, I guess.

It's sort of funny. I was certain that I could manage my personal finances with ease, when it's practically a full-time job. I was already stressed out enough with my first job and I knew I didn't have enough time to give my finances the attention it deserved.

That's why I decided to try out a budgeting app. My best friend told me that he uses an app called Truebill to manage his finances. "What does it even mean to manage your finances?" I asked him. He told me that Truebill was the personal financial assistant I wished I could have. It could aggregate all of my account information into one place and give me specific insights and actions.

I loved the idea of having full control over my finances, especially during a time of financial uncertainty, and I realized that Truebill would be the easiest way to accomplish this. The user interface is incredibly simple and intuitive, so it doesn't even feel like a finance app! Truebill offers a multitude of features, with their most popular being the ability to cancel subscriptions with the press of a button.

Okay, I had no idea how many subscriptions I was still subscribed to. In fact, I wasn't even using a quarter of the subscription services I was signed up for. Subscription boxes, streaming services, my old gym, and even an old subscription to my favorite magazine--it was all there and I was livid. How could I let myself waste all of this money and how did I never catch this? Thank goodness for Truebill.

Truebill also offers bill negotiations. There is a 40% fee based on how much you save and Truebill even claims that there is an 85% chance that they'll be able to lower your bill once a negotiation is requested. Why wouldn't I take them up on this? There was zero risk and I would only have to pay once my bill was lowered (which means that I would be saving money regardless).

More standard features of Truebill include the ability to generate a credit report on-demand and even request a pay advance. I only used the pay advance feature once when I wanted to buy a gift for my mom, but didn't have enough cash in hand and Truebill automatically reimbursed itself when I got my next paycheck.

The credit report is another fantastic feature and practically taught me what good credit meant. Truebill's credit report basically shows you which financial decisions have the most significant impact on your credit score and ways that you can improve your credit month-over-month. I've never had such control over my credit and it feels good.

I'll be the first to admit that I was extremely naive coming out of school. I figured that as long as I was attentive, I could manage my finances with ease. We manage money to some extent throughout our entire lives, but once you're thrown out on your own, it's a completely different story. With Truebill, I've finally been able to take control over my finances and stay on top of all of my responsibilities.

Update: Our friends at Truebill are extending a special offer to our readers! Follow this link to sign-up for Truebill.

My buddies and I always try to make it out to a game, but we never really care which one we end up at. Obviously we have our favorite sports and teams, but it was rarely about what game we went to or who we saw playing. It was about watching the game live.

In the early months of lockdown, all we had was Korean baseball, and trust me, we loved it. The only issue was, none of us had any idea what the commentators were saying. Even then, a few of my friends weren't huge fans of baseball. They were into sports like football and basketball, ones that moved at a quicker pace with less down-time in between plays.

We decided to see if there were any other events going down and came across horse racing. Yes, horse racing. It was perfect--short, fast-paced, and most importantly, an opportunity for betting.

I had never really considered watching a horse race any time other than the Belmont Stakes, but the prospects of the sport seemed exhilarating. Even better, with horse racing we knew we could still recreate the atmosphere of a race track. Salty snacks? Check. Stale beer? Check. A simple and easy way to bet? Check.

One quick Google search later, we came across TVG, powered by FanDuel. It's an online betting platform that takes you right to the heart of the action. We were a little apprehensive about using a mobile app to place our bets, but TVG's ability to bet on live horse races from all over the world was too good to pass up.

Here are 5 reasons why we are obsessed with horse racing thanks to TVG:

1. Betting has never been easier

Use your phone or computer to watch and bet on live horse races in real-time. TVG offers a bunch of features to make betting even simpler--live odds and handicapping tips leverage recent learnings to help you make your best bet. Not to mention, TVG's exclusive race content and wagering guide offers an under-the-hood look into the strategy behind horse race betting.

2. The biggest selection of horse races out there

If you're looking to drop a little dough on a horse race, chances are your best option is your local race track. But watching the same few horses races over and over again isn't the most exciting thing. With TVG you have access to over 150 tracks worldwide with races happening consistently throughout the day.

3. Get a generous sign-up offer when you place your first bet

Once you register your account, you will be eligible for a $200 risk-free bet. All you have to do is place your first bet and you're covered. If you happen to lose, TVG will insure you for up to $200 as a sort of wagering credit. I may have been a little trigger happy when placing my first bet, so having this insurance was a great perk. There are also a bunch of promotional offers available year-round.

4. Making deposits and cashing out at the touch of button

With a ton of payment options such as PayPal, BetCash, debit/credit, wire transfers, and other third-party services, making a deposit is a breeze. But what about the payout? Depending on your deposit method, your withdrawal will be available in a few days. No more waiting in-line to collect your winnings!

5. Watching live races with your friends while betting is exhilarating

Even when we were watching Korean baseball, Zoom calls with my friends were a little dull.

With TVG, we haven't had this sort of fun in months! Every weekend we'll turn on a race and throw our bets in. After a few races, and quite a few drinks, we'll tally up our winnings to see who won the most! Sometimes it's not even about making money, but just having a good time.

TVG is the perfect way to add a little excitement to an otherwise mundane afternoon. It introduced me to the world of horse racing, a sport I never would have considered otherwise.

The races just keep ramping up and thanks to TVG, I can always get in on the fun.

UPDATE: The biggest derby in horse racing is THIS WEEKEND. Get in on the action with your $200 risk-free bet!

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