By Arnold Sanow
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 and the best way to retain customers.
The following customer retention strategies apply for any business and can help maintain customer loyalty, 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 client 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 meeting their needs.
- Be credible. If you don’t establish trust right away, potential customers may switch 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 clients are your current ones. Don’t take them for granted. Keep on top of their asks.
- 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. Bringing business to them is the best way to retain loyalty.
- Make it as easy as possible for your customers to do business with you. Do things for their convenience, not yours. The easier you can make it for them, the more business you will have. Determine all the ways you can eliminate the “hassle factor.”
- Periodically send clients an invoice stamped “no charge.” This will help them remember you, and if it is unexpected it will have a greater impact.
- Establish an advisory panel. Only by knowing your clients’ 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 them, even if it has nothing to do with your business.
- Shower them 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 clients 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, make sure to offer a promotion to your current customers.
- Never show indifference toward your customers. In a 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. Enhance your strategy to keep customers by taking our course on Customer Service Excellence: How to Win and Keep Customers.
In addition to these 25 ways to keep customers, understanding their point of view is vital to establishing loyalty. Learn about the next generation with this free AMA webcast.
About the Author(s)
Arnold Sanow, MBA, CSP, is a speaker and seminar leader. He is the author of five books including Get Along with Anyone, Anytime, Anywhere…8 keys to Creating Enduring Connections with Customers, Co-workers--Even Kids, co-authored with Sandra Strauss, from which this article is adapted. Contact him at [email protected] or on the Web at www.arnoldsanow.com