Businesses grow by either growing their market share (acquiring new customers) or by growing their "share of wallet" (selling more to their existing customers) or by doing both very well. We all know that it is harder and more costly to find and sell to a new customer than to an existing customer.
So, is your business trying hard enough to get lots of repeat business, improve customer loyalty and dramatically grow those referrals?
One of the problems with some business owners is that they forget the little things - the things that people like and keep us coming back. Humour and a smile are very important to repeat business but so often I see staff that are dull, boring and sometimes not friendly. Being professional doesn't mean you forget how to smile, have a little humour and get a little creative with how you interact with customers.
Here are some tips to keep your existing customers and turn your new customers into LIFETIME ADVOCATES of your business:
- Send birthday letters or emails. The note should be personal and a gift is always great.
- Make regular "How's things" calls. Pick up the phone for at least 15 minutes each day and call a customer or two. "Hi theirname, I just called to see how things are going."
- Give unexpected gifts. Maybe, an article you found interesting with a post-it note from you. Invest in educating your customers and they'll give you more business.
- Send out small bags of lollies or jelly beans or other sweets. Attach a personal note.
- Send seasons greetings at Christmas with a difference. Don't be like everyone else - make yours different. I received a note last year with a donation to a charity - I was impressed.
- Send lots of thank you notes or emails. Attach something to make it stand out. Why not thank your customers for paying on time or early with a personal thank you note.
- Make thank you phone calls. "I just wanted to thank you for paying your invoice promptly..."
- Give your customers recognition. Put testimonials on your website and talk about them - not you. Include your customers in your promotions or your ads. Everyone loves a free plug. Remember to ask for their permission first.
- Hold seminars, breakfasts or lunches for your best customers. You could charge a small fee to cover your costs, but have an interesting speaker with an interesting topic.
- Give your customers awards. I know a business who used to send a certificate to customers who did something special which helped the business or who reached a milestone.
- Let your customers in on how you do things. Show them around your office. Make a video on YouTube of how things are done. Explain how you bill them and why each step is needed.
- Educate your customers. People thirst for knowledge and information (look at Google's success) so make sure you share this with your customers via direct mail, Twitter, your website, your blog, your Facebook page etc
- Ask your customers for feedback on your performance. Show them you are genuine by using the feedback to improve things. "How can we improve our service to you?" "What else can we..." "What do you like the best about ..." "What do you like the least...". Remember that the average business never hears from 96% of its unhappy customers! They just don't come back. If you give bad service a customer usually tells an average of 5 other people about it!
- Get your staff involved. Ask them for ideas on how to improve referrals and loyalty. Turn every person that works for you into an advocate of your business. They should be "selling" every moment of the day. In my last business I set about creating a culture where we made a difference with every call. Clients called in about their technical issues and each time we helped them out we were able to upsell or cross-sell because we took the time to earn their respect and find out about their needs. Coach and mentor your staff that "selling" is part of giving great service if it is done well and with respect for your customer's needs.
If you have a business and are finding it hard to increase your "share of wallet", maybe I can assist. I am currently helping one client triple their referrals with some simple and cost-effective ideas.
I'd love some suggestions from you on other ideas that may have worked for you. Post a comment please?