Make Your Customers Work for You!

Enjoy another great article from our guest blogger, Susan Placek, owner of “Popcorn Greetings“.

Make Your Customers Work for You

As an entrepreneur I know about the headaches and hassles small business owners have to deal with every day. We invest a lot of time and money on marketing our products and services and only a fraction of the many approached prospective customers really turn into new accounts.

That is why I decided to make my customers work for me. Every time I send off a customer as happy as a clam, I have recruited a new sales representative, who doesn’t show up on my pay roll.

Industry studies show that it is five to seven times more expensive to acquire a new customer than to retain an existing one. Consequently these accounts should be treated like precious nest eggs with the utmost care and attention in order to make our marketing efforts worthwhile.

In a world of increasing competition and a tough economy, smooth business transactions are simply not reason enough anymore for customers to return. Excellent products, fair pricing and overall customer satisfaction are the basics for happy customers, but no guarantee for customer loyalty.

By definition, customer satisfaction is a measure of how products and services supplied by a company meet or surpass customer expectation.

To leave a lasting and positive impression we have to go beyond of what a customer expects when doing business with us. Establishing a merchant-customer relationship built on quality of product or service, fair pricing, competence and trust, is fundamental for a thriving business and the most cost-effective way to grow sales. Customers will not only return, but also become messengers by promoting our businesses, simply by telling others about the positive experience.

The renaissance of good old values is, in my opinion, a positive effect of this recession. Building a business focusing strictly on profit doesn’t leave any room for the human factor. This kind of business philosophy may have worked for some time but it has come back to haunt many businesses and the results are all too obvious.

So what does it take to prosper and score in the game of business?

To better understand, we have to look at things from the customer’s point of view. What motivates us as customers to come back and recommend a business to others?

  • Friendliness, respect and courtesy are a must and nothing goes without it.
  • Patience will pay off, acting pushy signals desperation and stress and will not be appreciated by customers.
  • Customer questions are a perfect way to start working on a solid and good customer relationship. Being able to answer, advise and explain proofs knowledge, and is a base for the customer’s trust in business competence. Sadly, a clue less facial expression is often the answer one gets these days to questions about detailed product information. “I don’t know” is not a good answer either, unless it is followed by “… but I will be happy to find out for you”.
  • Passion for the business has a positive effect on how a company performs and on the quality of products and services. Don’t we all prefer to make business with people enjoying what they do?
  • Being able to call a business and actually talk to a person without getting trapped in the automated phone system is every customer’s dream. I absolutely despise these endless recordings and dial options and every time I have to deal with it, I get very annoyed. Real humans answering phone calls bring back the human touch. I like this.
  • It is good advice to listen to customers to avoid any kind of misunderstanding, to acquire conversational skills and to control your own emotions. Taking things personally does not help when dealing with customers.
  • Punctuality of phone calls, meetings and shipments helps establishing trust in the business.
  • Handing out unique customer appreciation gifts without breaking the bank, is a nice way to show gratitude, and with the right product it is also an excellent business marketing opportunity. Customization adds to the personal touch of a thoughtfully chosen give-away, saying “Thank You” is always in season.
  • A caring attitude and genuine interest in the customer’s needs is a safe investment into a thriving and successful business.

Is your customer service ready to ask, “May we help you?”

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