There is no doubt about it, getting new customers is a big deal for all companies, especially if you are just starting out.
That is why I chose to focus on that aspect in my first few posts.
To be honest though, one thing that I am constantly surprised about is the amount of companies that seem almost obsessed with getting new customers but once they have them seem to lose interest.
Think about it, that just does not make sense.
Your existing customers are the ones that clearly already like and trust you, you are half way there with these guys. I really feel that often the key to growing your business is to look after these people.
In this post I want to concentrate on the things we do during the transaction to keep customers coming back.
I will get to after-sale care later in another post.
There are really three things I think you need to get right to create a loyal customer.
The first one is price and there is probably not a lot of point me going on about that. All people in business know that it is vital.
The one thing I will say is this, think how much it costs you to pursue new customers every month.
You advertise, you offer special deals etc. Offering your existing customers a small discount on price is almost certain to cost less than all that.
Loyal customers cost you less, pass it on.
The other two points are less straight forward though.
To keep customers coming back I find that you need to be both reliable and likeable.
Strategies for achieving the first are probably more straight forward so lets tackle that first.
Most of you will be aware of the larger issues involved in being perceived as reliable.
Clearly your product needs to do what you said it would and it needs to get there on time.
These are obvious.
What I find people miss is the little things.
For example, if you say you are going to phone back in two hours with some further information, make sure you do it.
You may not perceive it to be a big deal if it has to wait until the next day, but in the customer’s mind you have failed to do something you said you would do. That starts to erode trust.
As for being likeable that is a far trickier area.
You would think it comes down to personality and individual preferences and in general life it probably does but this is business.
In business I think likeability can be achieved by you showing your customers that you are willing to go the extra mile for them.
I remember being out to dinner once with a friend who owned a floor covering business.
Right in the middle of us eating his phone rang, it was clearly a customer and he apologised for something and assured her he would be there first thing in the morning to ‘fix’ it for her.
When he got off the phone I asked him what had gone wrong, expecting some big disaster and he told me the floor covering guys had put her clothes back in her wardrobe in the wrong order.
I couldn’t believe he was going to her place to re arrange her clothes but he said “Oh she has been a great customer, she recommended me to lots of people and she is getting on a bit now. It won’t take me a minute.
Needless to say this guy is doing well.
Think about what you can do in your business to have a similar affect.