Every business survives primarily on customers. You can’t start a business without an ongoing strategy of winning and keeping customers. Your customer is your business and your business is your customer.
Rick Tate, senior managing partner at the Impact Achievement Group and an internationally recognized expert on service quality once said, ” Merely satisfying customers will not be enough to earn their loyalty. Instead, they must experience exceptional service worthy of their repeat business and referral. Understand the factors that drive this customer revolution.”
Competition has always been fierce in every industry. Treat your customers well or they will find another business who will. People have options. But they choose you because of something you are doing right. Be so good at delivering great service that your customers will talk about you even in their usual conversations.
You’ve got to be consistently better and smarter at attracting and keeping customers than your competitors are. That’s probably a daunting challenge, but if you study what your customers really want, you will have all the ideas to pull if off and retain your most important asset as a business. These are some of the creative ways new businesses can win and retain customers.
1. Don’t ever forget to say THANKS!
It can be face to face, over the phone or via written thank you notes. Customers like to feel appreciated. Thank you notes are probably the most powerful way to do it. Start sending handwritten thank you notes and letters if you can. Customers know when you care.
One of the best things a new business can do is to send handwritten “thank you” notes to its early customers. You will definitely stand out. Handwritten letters are more personal to clients and set you apart from your competitors.
And they will talk about it to their friends. If the top 20% of your customers generate 80% of your income, that is even more necessary to let them know how much you appreciate their business.
Sending handwritten thank you letters may seem overwhelming for businesses with thousands or millions of customers, but when you are starting out, make things personal.
2. Celebrate with customers on special occasions
Not every business send out holiday or special occasion cards. Send thank-you notes on Bank Holidays, Thanksgiving, Valentine Day and even on Christmas holidays. If you know your top customers’ birthdays, send out birthday cards too.
Celebrate with them. And they will stay with you as long as you are in business. Even if they don’t become loyal customers for life, the word of mouth referrals alone is worth the budget. Remember, small gestures can make a lasting impact.
3. Check in with customers when they least expect it
Most new businesses with minimal budgets can’t go toe-to-toe with the big guys on price, amazing customer service should be your winning proposition. Send follow-up emails to check in with customers after a purchase and see how they are doing. You can also send emails to solicit for feedback, positive or negative.
Find out if you are doing a good job, and if there are problems react quickly. It’s very important to establish personal relationship with your customers. Let them know you care about their experience with your company.
Imagine the impression a business would leave if after buying a product, you got an email from management asking if you’ve had problems using it or if there is anything they can do to help you. Pretty impressive stuff. Companies like Zappos, do amazing stuff for customers who buy from them. And people share their personal stories online all the time.
4. Be undeniably good at what you do
No marketing effort or social media buzzword can be a substitute for being the best at the one thing you say you do. Deliver on your promise. Under promise and over deliver. Exceed expectations at all times. Leave a positive impression on your customer.
Being amazing at your job takes time and practice. Your employees should know that they represent your business at all times. If a customer has a problem, and you are the person that received the information, it is your responsibility to see it through. You may not make the final decision, but the impression you leave when a prospective customer or existing customer makes contact can have a positive or negative impression about your business.