It is so much easier to keep an existing client or customer happy than it is to find a new customer. It’s easier and it cost a lot less to keep a client than find a new one. In fact, building a client or customer base is the foundation of any successful business.
Ahh, but it’s a competitive business climate in which we all operate so how do you keep clients from straying? Especially to the lower-priced competitor across town?
One word: service, service, service.
Make It Personal
Make it a point to “know” your clients or customers. Naturally, greet them by name. Keep a card on each client if your client roster is extensive but make it personal. Don’t leave it up to the direct service providers to maintain your client base. That’s the job of the business owner so pick up the phone just to say “hi,” send a turkey during the holidays and let your existing clients know you think of them.
Not once, but every time. In fact, you clients will come to expect this high level of quality service. Even better, they’ll network your company name at every seminar they attend and there’s nothing like word of mouth (WOM) advertising that comes with a referral! That’s a very warm lead.
Be Pro-Active But Be Careful, Too
Your expertise has value to the wise business owner. And so they solicit suggestions and opinions. However, many business owners are alpha dogs and they want things done their way – end of story.
In these cases, you simply follow directions to the letter. It’s also a good idea to let these business leaders make decisions along the way. These decisions make the leader a stakeholder in the process. In practice, it’s tough to criticize the text and graphics the client requested or better yet – created.
Approvals along the way also prevent expensive re-dos. You don’t want to go too far down the wrong road so, for those DIY clients, let them chart the course you follow. For more open business leaders, offer suggestions that (1) save time, (2) save money and (3) solve problems.
Keep Your Name In Front of Your Clients
A calendar from the local insurance agent, a refrigerator magnet from the local cleaning service, an outdoor thermometer from the lawn care company – all of these and more keep your company name in front of the client. So, when the house needs cleaning, there’s no thought to calling another service. Your magnet has been holding up first-grade art for the past six months.
Repetition makes you recognizable.
Fix The Problem NOW!
There are bound to be problems in any long-term business/client relationship. Mis-steps, mis-cues and misunderstandings. When these flash fires flare up, you – the company owner, CEO, regional director – the big kahuna – get involved to solve the problem.
This does a couple of things for you. First, you demonstrate the company’s commitment to the client’s satisfaction. After all, the boss is on the case. But more importantly, you just created the best salesperson you’ll ever have. If the problem isn’t solved to the client’s satisfaction, your company and services will get bad-mouthed all over town, all over the world in this web-based commercial world. Conversely, a client who is left satisfied through the intervention of the company owner is a salesperson who will spread your company’s good name every chance she gets.
Growing a small company to real profitability depends on maintaining that existing client base. It pays the mortgage. Keep your people happy and they’ll stay loyal.
And that’s how you grow a small business into a big business.