Why let your existing customers go to the competition?

Giving your existing customers some recognition and “tlc” is remarkably important for any business, but more so for small businesses: these are customers that you have already spent time and effort winning, they are already engaged with your company and, if encouraged, will continue to spend more money with you because they already trust you as a known supplier. If they have a positive view of you, so much the better.

But do you even know who they are, and have you ever shown them gratitude? If you do, they will become you ambassadors, giving word of moth referrals that you can publish and further strengthen the relationship.

Know your customers:

Who are they, when did they last buy, what did they buy, did they pay full price? Do you love dealing with them, do you think they love you?
Invest in a quality CRM system. It will show all your interactions, act as a reminder for when you next need to be in touch, especially if you would like repeat business. It can also be used to automate newsletters and other marketing events.

Identify Each Customers’ Needs

Identify and address your ongoing customer needs via upselling and cross-sell offerings. You have established a relationship and built trust by getting them to make the initial purchase, so think about their business and what else they SHOULD buy from you (if only they know that you sold it). If you offer them a personalized experience, they will want to come to you as their one-stop-shop. When they do, remember to thank them for the additional business.  Be enquiring – discuss additional opportunities that they may have that you could fulfil, either with existing product, or by bringing in something new.

Reward Your VIP Customers

The 80-20 rule will always apply, so make sure that you know who your top 20% are:  who brings in the most revenue (and the most profit!) and ensure you allocate your time and resources accordingly. Create a list of your VIP customers and publish it. Make sure everyone on the company knows who they are, and always go that extra mile for them.  Keep in touch, ring them on their birthday just to say “Hello” and make them feel special. Invite them to your events (golf days, seminars etc). By doing so, they continue to be your most profitable customers, and they will remain loyal to your company, and less likely to be lost to the competition.

Focus on Customer Service

This sounds obvious – but doing things well is what is expected. It’s the way that you recover from the time when something goes wrong, or when your customer is less than 100% happy that marks you out from the crowd. The goal has to be excellent customer service:  every phone call answered, every outgoing call, every email and customer touchpoint is an opportunity to communicate with our clients – to listen as well as to talk, so have a system of asking if the customer is 100% happy with what you do.

Always Be Consistently Reliable – exceed expectations.

It’s simple: Do what you say and say what you do. People love consistency, they hate surprises. Your CRM system should guide you to be there just before they have a need that you can fulfil. Be the person that meets their need, at a good value price with an appropriate lead-time.  

Engage with Customers Regularly

This is a bit like number 2 above, but for those outside the top 20%. You still need to nurture them and engage with them on a regular basis in an interesting and relevant way.  If they see other clients purchasing from you, they will be more inclined to do so. If they see your best clients giving testimonials about you those genuine testimonials are worth their weight in gold and will sway more clients to buy from you.

Build a win-win Experience

It’s difficult to stand out in today’s world. To keep your customers engaged with you, multiple things need to happen. They need to feel appreciated, which is pretty unique these days and therefore is memorable, especially if that appreciation from you to them is published for all to see. This is where accepting testimonials, thanking your client for them and publishing them on your web-site creates that win-win experience.

If you’d like more detail on any of these aspects, please get in touch.

Charles McClelland

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