Like it or not, good customer service is critical to your business’ future success. Sadly, very few businesses pay attention to customer once the sale is made. There can sometimes be an expectation that once a customer has made their first purchase, then they will always return to buy goods/services from you.
Times have changed and the days of almost instant customer loyalty have virtually disappeared. Some markets are global, whereas previously they were local or national – a huge difference. Competition is tougher because of this. What this means to you as a business owner is that you need to do more to retain a customer and EARN the next sale.
The question all business owners should be asking is “what can we do now to ensure our customers return to buy from us again and again.” It’s the first step, in what should be, a never-ending quest to retain your customer for life. I wrote an article previously explaining that the fourth way to grow your business was to focus on reducing attrition. Attrition is the migration of customers to another supplier, taking into consideration there are numerous other reasons why they may cease purchasing from you.
Change your thinking…
Many businesses look at a sale the wrong way. They see it as a straight numbers sale, another step closer to achieving a sales target. It’s a cold transaction, a one-off. To be successful in business, these one-off transactions need to morph into something much bigger…a full blown relationship where the customer buys more from you, frequently. In my article on the three simple ways to grow your business I discussed this in more detail and for the sake of clarity I’ll summarise again here.
The three ways to grow your business are:
1. Attract more customers
2. Increase the frequency of purchase in a year
3. Increase the average order value.
The foundation to achieving this is customer care. Recognising this is a first step in the right direction. The other important foundational change you need to make is that customers do not change for you. You have to be flexible to develop your relationship.
1) Rather than closing a sale, open a relationship.
It’s the first fundamental to change. I mentioned this earlier. The transaction of selling goods and being paid doesn’t change. However, your view on the transaction MUST change from seeing your business achieve its goals to wanting the customer to achieve THEIR goals. After all, what does this purchase mean to THEM? You won’t know the answer unless you get to know them better.
2) Change your view and description of your customer.
Now, what does this mean? Let’s take the meaning of what a customer is. A customer is “a person who buys goods or services from a shop or business”. That’s quite a cold description although factually accurate. What would happen if you changed the wording and considered a customer as a “client.” For some of you reading this now you may consider this to be a bit pompous however, hear me out as there is good reason to. The dictionary describes a client as “a person under the protection and patronage of another.” I adapt this slightly and see a client as a person under the protection, guidance and care of another. These are warmer words and hopefully you understand the importance in this shift to protect, nurture and guide your client so that they achieve what they want and by doing so, you get what you want.
It should be clear that a person “under the protection and guidance of” requires a long term relationship, not a cold, potentially one-off transaction. I may have laboured the point but it is a critical distinction. The client is not a “punter” for you to extract money from.
3) People buy for their reasons, not yours.
Part of the role of a salesperson is to understand more about the customer’s reason(s) for buying from you and what your product or service will do for them. It is important you make sure you or your salespeople spend more time listening than talking.
4) People like to feel appreciated.
What can you do to show how much you appreciate their custom? If you follow them on social media, it could be a simple response to a comment they make or a birthday message. It could be an email with a link to information you feel may be useful. Of course, you say “thank you” again for their business. You may also include details on another product or service you offer, especially if there is a connection with what they just bought.
5) People like to talk.
What are you doing to give them an experience worth sharing with their friends? What little touches can you build into your sales system that give your new client the wow factor, even if it’s only small? This could range from the deeper, caring attitude you have in your meetings with them, a follow-up phone call they weren’t expecting, an additional tips sheet to help them get more from what they purchased. I’m sure you and your team can think of a few nice little extras that really don’t cost much but can surprise a client because nobody has done this for them before.
By understanding that people buy for their reasons, not yours, you have taken the first of many steps towards developing long term relationships that sustain your business. However, you have to demonstrate that you care about your client many times over before they will drop their barriers and begin to care about you.
To sum up, there are a number of shifts in your thinking required here to get what you want – a client that returns time and again because they enjoy doing business with and trust you. Your role is to nurture these relationships as the short and long term benefits to your business and ultimately your livelihood depends on them.Do your clients return time & again? 5 tactics to help your customers... Click To Tweet