Business owners face many challenges in 2018. As we continue to see record highs in consumer confidence and spending, competition heats up among business owners. Bottom line is, consumers are fully in the drivers seat.

The B2C companies we see rising to the top have a common denominator: their customers are loyal. A loyal customer base is important not only for repeat business, but also new business in the form of referrals.

Here are 3 ways you can cultivate a positive experience between your business and its customers to build brand loyalty. Spoiler alert: It is about about the relationship!

1) Don’t Sweat the Small Things.

There was a coffee shop I would visit once a week. I always loved this coffee shop. It was quiet, clean, comfortable, modern, and — most importantly — they had really good coffee!

One day, I noticed there was a new handwritten sign at the entrance that read “restrooms are for paying customers only!!” I found it strange since we lived in a small town at the time. I couldn’t imagine they would get that much foot traffic that they were losing money on the extra water / soap to allow non-customers to use the restroom.

As I sat there drinking my coffee, a young woman with her toddler came in and went straight to the restroom. It was at that point I saw the business owner emerge from the back and walk straight up to the restroom door, standing outside of it. When the woman came out, the business owner proceeded to scold the woman and child saying something along the lines of “did you not read the sign?” Shocked, I sat there watching this unfold. The woman said, “I’m so sorry, I was planning on ordering, we just had a little emergency.” The business owner didn’t even apologize, just said “okay” and walked away.

How embarrassing! Do you think that woman ever visited that coffee shop again? Do you think she gave any raving reviews?

As a business owner, it is easy to get frustrated by small things. The coffee shop owner might have had some really poor experiences prompting them to post that sign. Maybe they had a non-paying customer leave a mess, knock over a mirror, or prevent a paying customer from using it. Understandably, that can be frustrating. But take a step back and ask yourself, is this a battle worth fighting? Is this action more likely to create customer loyalty, or prevent it?

2) Communicate Your Value

Notice the keyword here is communicate. You can be creating more value than the next guy, but are your customers aware of this? Communication and convincing your audience of the value you provide will actually allow you to provide less value.

I was at the grocery store yesterday trying to find bacon. As a bacon lover, but not a bacon expert, I only knew I wanted good bacon. I didn’t know what brand or kind. There were two different brands sitting next to each other, both said “hickory thick-cut” and both appeared to have the same thickness, size, quantity, etc. However, one had a price tag of $8 and one had a price tag of $5. The $8 bacon was on sale for $5.

So, essentially the same product, same price, different brands. Which one did I grab? The one that was normally $8 of course! Why? I had no idea why! But I assumed I was receiving a greater value with the bacon that is normally more expensive.

This is key.

I have no idea why the bacon I chose was better than the one next to it, but I bought it anyway because I believed to be getting more value.

How are you communicating your brand’s value to your audience?

3) Prioritize Your Service Level

We work with business owners every day and we see it all the time. The business owners who are authentic about their desire to place customer service at the top of their priority list, are the ones that succeed.

Consumers can sniff out who are authentic and who aren’t. And it starts from the top. Have you ever noticed when you visit franchises with a high service level, you’ll almost inevitably sense it from the managers down to the cashiers. Chick Fil A , Southwest Airlines, Ritz Carlton are a few good examples. It doesn’t matter who you are, when you interact with anyone from their team, they are going to make you feel like the most important customer.

As a business owner, building brand loyalty can be difficult, especially when increasing competition only seems to encourage price shopping. However, rest assured, consumers are still willing to commit to a brand. Choosing your battles and not letting the small things get you you, along with communicating value and an emphasis on service can go a long way in building the relationship between your brand and the consumer.