Tips on how you can keep good customers
This mentor is about keeping good customers and getting repeat business. Technology has helped in ways to thank customers. This often comes in the form of an online thank you usually followed by a pitch of a similar product, and/or asking for a survey to ask if your needs were met. Although this is good, it sometimes feels impersonal. So what are some other simple ways to ensure you grow your business through your client base?
- Show appreciation. Thank each customer personally and be genuine when you do. Maybe send a gift. My friend in Florida, Jay, raved how an air conditioning company left a hot/cold tumbler filled with cookies with a personal note from the owner. What a simple touch and great customer relations and now he does their marketing for them free.
- Become genuinely interested in customers. Every now and then call or send an email describing what you know about them. What their interests seem to be. And promise that you won’t overdo the updating of new improvements in products, styles, discounts and promotions that come up. Too many surveys and product pitches can become boring and take too much time. Keep finding ways to keep the personal connection going.
- Genuinely help your customers succeed. Unfortunately, most people/customers do not believe the excessive pitches that come at them, especially when it’s flogged on them continuously through online technology or telemarketers. Even writing blogs or newsletters that trap your customers into giving up their data to get your helpful hints and advice can be cumbersome and disingenuous. Information-giving emails are a dime a dozen. So genuinely advise them. You have access to your industry’s information on trends, on what doesn’t work, and on what does work. Give it away. Don’t constantly ask for something. Determine what your customers might not realize is hurting their business or lives and inform them.
- Yes, you need to get attention but phoney, over the top attention getters only work a few times. Most times, understatements work better, especially in our Canadian market. For example, “We may not have the answer to ———but so far we’ve determined that ————works most of the time”.
- Personalize all your advice to your ‘A’ repeat business accounts. Yes, it is lots of work, but it is the right work. When you make appointments with your A accounts make sure you have something to say that is valuable to their success and that they may not be aware of. Product pedlars have a place on a line or in retail, but selling with valuable advice can be much more profitable for everyone else because trusted advisors can be counted on. Even retailers are helping with advice today. My nursery (Riverland Nursery) offers Saturday workshops. Our accounting firm, SB Partners, offers an executive series (I have done some). Maybe consider getting back to conducting lunch and learns or workshops on how to do something better or how to make things less complicated for your customers.
- Listen, listen, listen. I started most of my corporate projects with the executives or owners listening to their customers in a two-hour meeting. My clients were not allowed to talk. No pitching, explaining, defending, and no talking. I did the questioning and the clients made notes. Even after our debriefings it was always amazing how little actual listening was going on. We tend to listen and interpret for confirmation of our made-up minds. After you listen alter your offering constantly so that it improves your customer’s lives or businesses.
In summary, treat customers well. Be interested. Be personal. That is unusual. Referrals still work the best in attracting new business and they go to the companies who execute on some of these strategies. It usually costs ten times more to attract new business than to treat existing customers well and to keep them.
Kevin D. Crone
Dale Carnegie Business Group
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