With so much emphasis on finding new customers, business owners often lose sight of keeping their existing customers. Here are a few sure-fire ways to stop losing them.
These days, every customer is important. So why then do companies lose them? Between moving away or passing away and switching to a competitor, the excuses are many for why customers may jump ship. But the No. 1 reason why customers go away is the feeling of indifference toward a product or service.
To counter this ambivalence, it’s key to make sure your customers feel and perceive that they are wanted and they want to stay where they are appreciated. But to make customers love you, you will have to work even harder. Here are seven ways to win the devotion that makes for loyal customers:
1. Never assume: You may think you know what customers want. But what if you are wrong? The main reason such a high percentage of new businesses fail is because those companies are trying to create demand where there isn’t any, or they are built around untested or unproven ideas that are unable to attract even a small set of customers.
Don’t make the same mistake. Test and start small, and build your product, service or value proposition around the wants, needs and desires of your target customer. Not only will you get a better understanding of customer needs, you will be able to identify innovative ways to solve their problems and exceed their expectations.
2. Always deliver: To win customers back, you need to deliver on time, every time. If a problem arises, inform your customer right away. Explain how you are going to deal with it. Then follow up again, and again, to ensure positive results. This also goes for your invoices and any correspondence. You might even create a system to ensure that each task gets completed correctly and is always delivered in a timely fashion.
3. Personalise loyalty programmes: To ensure you have a winning loyalty programme, you must plan, design and execute it in a systemised way. Plus, you need to show the value of it and continually demonstrate that value to your team.
4. Train your staff: Here is where scripts come in. Use periodic training sessions to help give your team the skills that are necessary to boost your company’s reputation, trust, empathy, flexibility and verbal communication proficiency. This is vital because each customer contact with your team is an opportunity to build your reputation, or destroy it.
5. 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? Or any notice, other than when a payment is due? This simple strategy can really make an impact and says a lot about your company and the value you place on customers.
6. Stay connected: While the frequency may vary, every customer should receive an off-line ‘touch’ at least once in a quarter and, with an email or e-newsletter, even more often. For instance, once a week with an e-mailer may do the trick. Over time, you can develop a relationship with your customers, especially if your ‘touches’ are information or educationally-oriented and are designed to add value to their experience with you, rather than just as a mechanism for pushing products or services.
7. Play favourites: New customers are critical to growth, but you must ensure that current customers get VIP treatment as well. Nothing is worse for loyal customers than to see products or services they bought at full price discounted to entice new customers. You can turn this around by offering exclusive loyalty programmes, deals or specials geared specifically to your best and most loyal customers.
Sanjay Chaturvedi is the CEO and Managing Director of ActionCOACH India.
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