While many business owners obsess about ways to reach new customers, when it comes down to it, your most important source for new business is right in front of you: your existing customers. Surprised? Your existing customers are not only the best source for new business (via expanded services) but they are also the ever-important ticket to new customers (referrals). That’s why you need to make sure you’re doing everything possible to maintain the loyalty of the customers you’ve already got.
While many businesses get in the habit of collecting customers, it’s far more important that existing customers feel valued. When a customer feels valued, they become loyal, even life-long. This gives you the opportunity to provide them with even more business. And as we all know, happy customers are the best sales team going.
So how do you earn this kind of loyalty?
The idea is to structure your business so that it provides exceptional service, and delivers the type of relationship your target clients want.
Ask yourself the following questions:
1. Do your existing customers know what to expect when they do business with you?
2. Do they feel valued when they do business with you?
Customers want a personalized experience and most customers want to be loyal if you give them a good enough reason. People want a consistent experience. And they want to feel they are known by the businesses they are buying from- whether it’s a local coffee shop, drycleaner, or manufacturer.
To structure your business in a way that encourages loyalty, begin by gauging the satisfaction levels of your customers on an ongoing basis.
For example, if you’re a drycleaner, ask your customers questions about their experience. Were they happy with their last pick-up? Do they have any input to share that would help you make their experience better?
If you’re a wholesaler, design your questions to discover if there is a more seamless way for customers to place and receive their orders.
Of course, you’ll need to ensure your staff understands just how important customer loyalty is and why these types of questions really matter. Offer customer service workshops and invite employees to provide input on the types of questions that will help your business understand the needs of your customers better.
Listen to the types of scenarios your employees describe. This is where you will learn about new ways to serve your customers. (And it never hurts to offer incentives to employees who receive positive feedback from your customers.)
Here’s an example of the types of questions you might include in your survey (remember, this will vary from business to business):
• How do you use our products?
• Who uses these products?
• Are you happy/do you have any feedback on products or services?
• How can we serve you better?
These questions can be invaluable to shaping your business.
For example, one of our clients discovered that their product was being repackaged and sold to other markets by their client. They offered to add custom packaging to them and their client was thrilled to eliminate this step in their process.
Asking the right questions will help you to identify new areas that your products/services could be used, and help you develop solutions for clients that demonstrate just how much you value their business.
Done properly, customer service is a self-fulfilling prophesy. The longer a client stays with you, the better your service can be. And the better your service is, the longer a client will stay with you. Don’t forget, it’s a lot easier and more cost efficient to continue working with an existing client than it is to generate a new client.
A loyal client is worth a lifetime of business and referrals.