In today’s fast-changing, competitive business environment, excellent customer service is essential for success. In fact, service may be the key to differentiating your business from the competition.
The following customer retention strategies apply for any business, large or small:
- Reward your customers. Send them a gift, provide them with a lead; help them generate business.
- Use your customers’ services and buy their products. There is no better way to build loyalty.
- Send thank-you notes. Make sure they are handwritten and sent promptly. Peter Drucker attributed much of his success to the fact that he sent out 12 thank-you cards every day.
- Return phone calls promptly. Since so many people don’t return calls, you automatically gain an advantage when you do.
- Do what you say you are going to do.
- Do things when you say you’re going to do them.
- Under-promise and over-deliver.
- Be accessible. Show customers that you are available and willing to help them whenever there is a problem. Your business should be open to meet the convenience needs of your customers.
- Be credible. If you don’t establish trust right away, potential customers may jump to your competitors.
- Appearance counts. Perception is reality, and the reality is that people do judge a book by its cover.
- Stay in touch. Remember the best customers are your current ones. Don’t take them for granted. Keep on top of their wants and needs.
- Have a “Goof Kit” to send to customers if you make a mistake. Just saying, “I’m sorry” is not enough.
- Promote customers’ products and services. By bringing business to your clients, you ensure you will have a customer for life.
- Make it as easy as possible for your customers to do business with you. Do things for the customer’s convenience, not yours. The easier you can make it for your customer to do business with you, the more business you will have. Determine all the ways you can eliminate the “hassle factor.”
- Periodically send customers an invoice stamped “no charge.” This will help your customers remember you. If it is unexpected it will have a greater impact.
- Establish a customer advisory panel. Only by knowing your customers’ wants and needs can you successfully grow your business and be totally customer-oriented.
- Hire mystery shoppers to find out how good your customer service really is.
- Be a resource. No matter what your customer needs, try to find it for him, even if it has nothing to do with your business.
- Shower customers with kindness.
- Speak your customer’s language. Don’t use jargon they can’t understand.
- Have a great attitude.
- Treat your employees well. If they are treated poorly, there is a good chance they’ll treat your customers badly.
- Give your customers what they want, when they want it, the way they want it.
- Give back to your best customers. If you run a special price or product offer for first-time customers, make sure to offer a promotion to your current customers.
- Never show indifference toward your customers. In a recent study on why people stopped dealing with a company, 68% said they left because of an attitude of indifference by the owner, manager or employees.
Superlative customer service involves more than just training people to smile. It’s about treating people the way they wanted to be treated—giving clients what they want, when they want it and how they want it. It really comes down to the fact that good communication and human relations skills equals good customer relations.