Build a Strong Customer Base: Build a Bigger Business
March 21, 2019
If businesses could keep all of their customers forever, long-term growth and immense success would almost be guaranteed. Unfortunately, this is not the case and wishful thinking at best.
Assuming every customer cannot be retained, then the next best thing is for a business to retain the majority of its customers and, hopefully, its best customers. Retaining customers, however, takes more than continuous marketing campaigns, improving products or services, or having competitive pricing.
Businesses must provide benefits that customers seek, solutions to their problems, quality, value, and a certain level of service before, during, and after a sale, depending on the product or service.
Customer retention is dependent upon the following techniques:
1. Build Relationships - While it is easier to build relationships in some businesses and industries than in others, relationship building should be the goal for all businesses. Relationships normally are not built quickly as it takes time to nurture true relationships.
When there is a lengthy sales cycle, lasting relationships are easier to build since salespeople and customers have time to get to know each other. Although, the primary goal is to build business relationships, becoming better acquainted with each other on a personal level can help achieve this goal.
Even for businesses that have short sales cycles, relationships can still be fostered between salespeople and customers. In this situation, relationships must be developed quickly during the initial interaction by having the right attitude, showing concern, asking relevant questions, and providing prompt service.
One important reason to build the best relationships possible is so business can continue even if something during or after the sale does not go as planned.
2. Set Reasonable Expectations - When customers understand what to expect and expectations are met, customers will be satisfied with the product or service they purchased. However, when expectations are not met, customers then seek competitive businesses that can provide essentially the same product or service with expected results.
“Under promise and over deliver” is an axiom that sounds good for business; however, the most important factor is for a business to deliver what is promised and expected rather than anything less. While customers might be pleased and pleasantly surprised to receive more than what is expected, receiving anything less will have a far greater negative impact than the positive impact of receiving more than what was expected.
3. Deliver the Right Message - One factor of customer retention is dependent upon delivering the right message. Customers are more likely to stay with businesses that deliver messages they understand.
Although a business might sell the same product or service to different markets, this does not mean that the same message should be delivered unchanged to all markets. Different markets may require different messages, and messages should target the specific needs of customers. The best message for one market segment may be totally ineffective for another segment. The retention process is enhanced when products and services are matched with the right customers through targeted messages.
4. Educate Customers - Today’s customer wants to be educated, and thanks to the Internet and social media, information is only a click away. Because of the ease of information that is freely and easily transmitted, it is imperative for businesses to furnish relevant content to its customers. This, of course, does not mean that the only form of product or service information should be obtained from the Internet. Sales reps and employees need to be equally informed about the products and services being sold, so they can effectively communicate this information to customers. Purchasers want information that will help them make informed decisions.
5. Seek Input - There’s no better way for businesses to find out what customers want than to ask them. Once this information is obtained, a business can focus on what customers find favorable and make necessary changes to better accommodate customers’ wants and needs. Employees that deal directly with customers are another important source of information about customer satisfaction levels. They hear directly what customers are saying about the business, its products, pricing, levels of customer service, and even the competition.
6. Never Falter on Customer Service - Keeping a business’s best customers requires providing top-level customer service at all times...being customer centric. Building loyalty through customer service is not a hit or miss proposition. It cannot exist one day but not the next. Customer service is letting customers know they are “number one” all the time. A high level of customer service can make the difference between one isolated sale or continuous repeat business.
Convert Ordinary Customers Into Extraordinary Customers
Since it takes considerably more cost, time, and effort to obtain new customers than it takes to retain current customers, businesses should concentrate on cultivating ordinary customers into extraordinary customers. Competition is intense in almost every business sector. Once a customer is lost to the competition, rarely does that customer return, and the investment of both financial and human capital is lost as well. Use the above techniques to build a stronger customer base of extraordinary business patrons.