Your Customers Are #1 with You…But Are You #1 with Them?

In Customers by Alexandra Mitchell

Three weeks ago my husband and I took our four-legged babies to the veterinarian for an annual check up. They were examined, got their nails clipped and their shots – the usual. The next day (which was a Saturday), the vet’s office called to make sure that the kitties were fine and not listless or lethargic because of the shots. I assured them that Peaches and Bang Bang were happily chasing imaginary bugs. But I loved that customer service! It was really great to know that even on a Saturday they would check in to make sure everything was okay. That simple 30- second call reinforced that I made a right decision in choosing the vet that I did. You can also expect if anyone asks me to recommend a vet, I would mention that after service call.When was the last time you called a client to check on a recent service or sale? What else do you do to let your clients know you appreciate them? Your marketing and sales plans must include  customer retention strategies, or you won’t grow. You should focus 70 – 75% of your time, effort and money on customer retention because, as noted in a Harvard Business Review article, “Increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%. “That makes sense. You don’t have to pitch your business to current clients; if you did a good job developing your brand and your products/services then they’re already sold. But don’t take for granted that if they bought from you once or more you’ve got them hooked. Remember the adage, “It takes years to win a customer and only seconds to lose them.” Competition is always around the corner offering better prices, different products and better customer service. It’s important to stay focused on your customers and that also means training your staff to do the simple things like smiling (even when answering the phone — customers can actually “hear” the smile), listening, being polite and professional (even when a client is being unreasonable), and making every situation a win-win. The suggestions below of what you should do, how you can accomplish it and some examples will help you start defining general customer service and retention outreach. You should, of course, develop your own targeted plans based on your clientele:

What: Give them a reason to return.

How: Introduce a new product; provide a discount or special offering

Examples: Invite only store event; special discount on select days; coupons, gift
with purchase; Buy One/Get One (for services-oriented businesses, you can
provide a small inexpensive gift).

What: Give them more than they expect.

How: Go beyond the business they give you by providing them with information
that might help them or their business; save them money on their next purchase.

Examples: Informative newsletters, frequency discounts or “buy 5 get one free” punch cards.

What: Give to their special causes.

How: Support their personal or business non-profit efforts (as long as they don’t conflict with your own views). This demonstrates that you see them beyond their wallets and what they do for you.

Examples: Volunteer at the event; purchase raffle tickets; attend their cause-related event.

What: Give without getting.

How: Think about them first, and what might make them more appreciative of your business.

Examples: If they refer business to you, say thank you with a handwritten note and a gift card; treat them to something you know they’ll appreciate it. Contact me to develop your own customer retention strategies  and to effectively train your staff.

“There is only one boss. The customer.  And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”

— Sam Walton Founder of Walmart

5 Simple Tips to Build Customer Appreciation

1. Say “Thank You,” and look them in the eyes and smile. And when they say, “Thank You,” the response should be “Your Welcome” not “No problem.”

2. Create printed cards offering a discount on their next purchase and place them in bags or envelopes.  Remember to brand them with your logo, tagline, address, email and phone number.

3. Become friends with your competitors so you can refer customers if you’re unable to fulfill a request.   They’ll do the same for you too.

4. Keep your business, and yourself neat and tidy. It’s simple enough and will always leave a positive impression.

5. Follow up with a call, a note, or email inquiring about the product or service.Turn it into an opportunity to provide a special offer, “Bring a friend and receive 15% off…”