Whilst focusing on growing your business by attracting new customers is key, never lose sight of the importance of nurturing your existing customers. They provide you with repeat business and can often be the source of a new opportunity.
Strive to add value to the service you are supplying them, as there are always competitors, only too eager to take your place.
What tactics can you implement to retain your customers and promote a long term, loyal relationship?
Few clients will spontaneously tell you when they are unhappy with your service; until that unhappiness reaches a critical level, and they are ready to terminate your contract.
Avoid a situation like this, by doing a quarterly “temperature check” with your customer. Meet with them and get feedback; find out how you can improve on your delivery and then implement their suggested changes.
A review also gives you the opportunity to discover any new business challenges your customers may be facing. Perhaps there’s even a chance of you assisting, by providing an additional service to them.
Encourage your customers to buy regularly from you by offering them an incentive. Perhaps it’s a special discount or a free service when the business they do with you, reaches a certain rand value.
In South Africa there’s been a significant growth in the number of loyalty programmes, particularly in the retail sector. According to a Value Network Loyalty Survey, by the end of 2014 South Africa had 82 million registered programme members.
Assign one of your staff member’s responsibility for customer care and ensure that your customers are aware of who to phone when they have a query. There’s nothing more frustrating for a client than being passed from pillar to post, when they are seeking a resolution to their problem.
Your customer care manager must revert to your clients with feedback within 24 hours of a query or complaint being lodged.
In a tight economy, everyone is looking for ways to save. If you have a range of products, offer a product bundle at a discounted price for a limited period. Communicate this special to your customers via a punchy e-mail. Follow it up with a telephone call.
I use a garden service that adopts this tactic. At the beginning of spring, for example, it offers a special priced package comprising garden refuse removal, tree felling and planting of seedlings.
Your customers can sense whether you and your staff have a passion for what you do and are focused on serving them. This attitude is infectious and will attract sales.
Whilst writing The NEW Entrepreneur, I interviewed Francois Castelyn, the South African Director of global IT support company, Nerds on Site. When asked about the importance of adopting a positive attitude, he stated:
“Whenever Nerds on Site contacts a client we start the conversation by referencing what has gone well with their IT support in the past 7 minutes, 7 hours and 7 months. This simple technique is a really positive game changer.”
What activities are you implementing to retain your customers?