It is often said, “Customers go where they are wanted and stay where they are appreciated”. When businesses lose valued customers, they often assume it was related to price, competition or even the brother-in-law who now does what you do. But research shows that over 65% leave because of perceived indifference — they just don’t think you care. So what are you doing to keep valued customers coming back and feeling important?
So how much time and money do you invest in retaining and building relationships with your current customers? Now compare this to the resources you spend attracting new ones. Are you surprised?
New customers are the lifeblood of most businesses and yes, they are important. But if your new customers simply replace those you lose, it’s costing you a lot! Losing customers can drastically affect your reputation, credibility, referrals, sales and profits.
How to Keep Valued Customers
Never assume you know what customers want – ask them! Customer needs change. So does competition. Customer surveys are a great tool for understanding what customers want and need, evaluating your performance and uncovering innovative ways to solve their problems or exceed their expectations. One of the best questions you can ask is “On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the best, how would you rate our service? Anything less than a 10 (and most are), should be followed with “What do we need to do to be a 10?”. The answers may surprise or maybe even inspire you.
Measure and reward customer satisfaction and retention. If customer satisfaction and retention is really a priority in your business, demonstrate this to your team. Develop a method to measure it, set goals for improvement and reward the team when the goal is accomplished. This approach works for any improvement you wish to make because when you measure something, it becomes the focus. And with focus, comes improvement.
Select the right people. When you hire employees or select subcontractors to interact with your customers, make sure they value customers and possess the skills to deliver to your standards. Are they empathetic and trustworthy? Can they communicate well and listen to learn? Each customer contact with you, your team or other partners is an opportunity to build your reputation or destroy it. Make the selection of people a priority.
Say Thank You. Sounds obvious but consider this. When was the last time you received a thank-you note from a company you do business with? This simple strategy can really make an impact and says a lot about your company and the value you place on customers.
Stay connected with your customers. Whether you do it by phone, mail or email, make sure your customers know you are thinking of them. Too often, we only connect when we’re trying to sell something. A simple thank you, a request for feedback, or a holiday greeting card can all do the trick. If you want to add a special offer, just for them, even better! While the frequency may vary based on your business or industry, quarterly contacts should be your minimum goal!
Make customers feel like VIP’s. Your current customers need to feel more appreciated than non-customers or prospects. While new customers are important to growth, make sure current customers get some VIP treatment. Programs, offers or specials that are exclusively available to current, loyal customers (VIP’s) work well – so build some into your marketing efforts.
Make customer service everyone’s responsibility. Does everyone in your company understand the value of customers and are they ready to help them regardless of whose job it really is? Train your team on customer service and give them the tools and ability to take care of your customers. From the receptionist to the delivery driver, your team will make an impression. The kind they make is up to you!
Make Service and Retention a Priority
When you plan for the coming year, sprinkle in a few strategies to improve service and retain your valuable customers. They are a great source of referrals and word-of-mouth advertising. Here’s the best part. These strategies cost a lot less than generating leads for new customers. For more ideas, download my 155+ Profit Building Ideas.
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