If you work in or own a smaller business, you know you must cultivate relationships with your clients to ensure their continued patronage. Studies have shown that it is much easier and cheaper to maintain a customer relationship than to grow a new one.
One way to retain customers is to keep your word. Do what you say you are going to do to make your business worthy of a customer’s repeat business. You should expect that clients will want to return. However, many companies expect the customer to prove they are right customers by returning on a regular basis instead of the business setting out to cultivate a customer relationship from the very beginning. Once you establish a good relationship, make it a policy to go above and beyond.
Your staff need to understand as well that ‘I only work here’ is a complete turnoff to anyone. ‘My manager is away, ‘off sick’ ‘on holiday’’ in a meeting’ doesn’t help in building or maintaining customer relationships. Customers who cannot speak to someone when they want to are not going to feel welcome if you are always ‘in a meeting! Please make sure your staff know how to respond to your customer needs when you are not there.
A world survey asking why people changed their suppliers found that a staggering number 68% changed their supplier because of ‘a feeling of indifference by one or more involved in the sale’ Only 14% because they were dissatisfied with the product.
People like Mary Portas are now seen on TV championing retail customers, and hotels are being examined by the Hotel’s Inspector it ‘s not surprising customers are getting more demanding and less receptive to being ignored. And with competition getting more and more aggressive and the talk that the economy still has problems more than ever you need to hang onto your customers.
Everyone in the business needs to treat the customers as they would wish to be treated. Explore with your staff examples of the real customer experiences they have received and if they say they cannot think of any you can ask them if they like the idea of people talking about your business in this way. After all, if you and your people have a genuine and trusted relationship with your customer, then it’s much less likely they’ll leave you to seek out new suppliers.