What’s at the heart of every business? Customers. Customers make it possible for you to start your business, grow it, and keep it. Connecting with customers is key to making sure your business is a success.

I wouldn’t be where I am today without my customers. Having been an entrepreneur for over 30 years, I’ve learned a thing or two about connecting with customers.

Connecting with customers

Knowing how to connect with customers makes it a lot easier for you to gain a loyal following at your small business. Here are some of my tried-and-true platforms that I use to connect with customers.

1. Website

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: technology runs today’s business. That is one of the core reasons why small businesses need a website. Customers expect your business to use technology to make visiting your business, shopping, and purchasing more convenient for them. You can interact with customers easier than ever with a company website.

Make sure you have a website, and make sure it’s good. Customers look at websites for basic information about your business. They want to see what time you’re open, what kind of products or services you offer, and your company’s contact information.

Customers and potential customers also want to know what other people have to say about your business. Lots of businesses let customers leave comments or reviews right on their website. And, businesses respond on review websites.

Engaging with reviews is a great method for marketing to existing customers. If a customer leaves a positive review, reach out to them to show your appreciation. And, if a customer leaves a negative review, you can offer them a refund, discount, or new product, and apologize for their experience. Potential customers can read the reviews and see that you really make an effort to connect.

2. Social media

Learning how to use social media marketing for small business is a wonderful free way to connect with your customers. There are so many different social media sites that let you reach out to customers or draw in new customers.

At my company, Patriot Software, I like to connect with customers using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest. Why? Almost everyone uses social media, and people are turning to social media to talk to their favorite businesses.

I’ve seen customers post on social media about a good experience and get attention from dozens of people. People might give your business a try based on the social media referrals.

And, I’ve also seen people post about lousy service at a restaurant or a faulty phone. When that happens, you can still benefit. Like it or not, not everyone is going to be happy with every experience they have at your business. But, the way you handle unhappy customers makes a world of difference.

If you give a customer an on-the-house product or service next time they come in, they might end up being lifelong customers. And, other potential customers see that you take the time to make sure your customers are satisfied. That will make new people want to come to your business.

Current customers want to know that you take complaints seriously. Make sure you always connect with customers, even when you might not like what they have to say.

3. Email Marketing

Starting an email list is a great example of how to reach customers. One way to get an email list going is to ask customers their email addresses when they make a purchase. But, you also want to get email addresses from people who aren’t your customers yet.

Offer people checking out your website something in exchange for their email address. For example, Patriot Software offers a free subscription to our blogs after a person enters their name and email address. That helps to grow our email list and to give potential or existing customers something valuable in return. You could offer something like discounts, promotions, or simply upcoming news about your business.

4. Hold events

Sometimes, one of the best ways to connect with people is in real life. You can have big sales or promotional events. And, you can talk about your business while people are at your business for the sale. They could end up being regulars.

Another way to connect with customers is to get involved with community events. Offer your product or service to a local nonprofit or cause to get your business’s name out there. That might draw in some customers right away or in the future. Getting your business out there is a great way to connect with people. And, it lets them know what your business does if they want to make a future purchase.

For example, your community might have a festival. You could rent a booth and give free samples of your business’s product. That way, people can see what you offer, and it helps you connect with new people.

Or, you might run a promotion where your lawn mowing business provides free service to the winners of a raffle at a community event. Whatever the case may be, get your business out there to connect with customers.

Read more: Connect with New People on LinkedIn