As a business owner, you wake up every morning and go to sleep every night with two things on your mind:
- How do I get new customers?
- How do I keep my existing customers happy?
Those two things are important to the continued success of your business. We focused on reaching new customers in this blog a few weeks ago (see To Market, To Market We Go!). Today, let’s focus on keeping your existing customers happy. This is extremely important for a few reasons. First, a happy, satisfied customer will tell two other people about your business. Word of mouth advertising is the best, since the prospective client hears from someone they know, like, and trust about how good you are. Believe me, that’s great! On the flip-side, however, a dissatisfied customer will tell 7-10 people about you…and this time, the publicity is not the kind you want.
It Starts With the Sale
Okay, technically, it starts before the sale. However, I’m including the entire sales process in this section. Most people think of Customer Service as something that begins after a person becomes a client. However, I prefer to think in terms of providing a positive Customer Experience, something that makes a person think, “Wow! I’m glad I decided to do business with these guys!” Give careful thought to the entire sales process, from the moment a customer walks through the door (whether real or virtual) to the point when they make a purchase. What can you do to make that experience amazing? How can you provide service before you’ve ever made the sale? You need to know, understand, and address your customers needs before they ever bring them up. We’ll address the sales process more extensively in a future post. Right now, the main thing to remember is this: The sales process is an integral part of providing customer service.
Cultivate What You Plant
The apostle Paul spoke extensively about cultivating people. At 1 Corinthians 3:6, he spoke about this process when he said, “I planted, Apollos [a traveling companion and fellow minister] watered, but God kept making it grow.” We learn quite a bit from this verse. First, it shows that the process of cultivating people (whether disciples or new customers) is not always a solitary effort. It takes teamwork. We touched on that in the previous paragraph. He also showed that the final growth is out of our hands. BUT…we have to do the planting and watering if we ever want to see the results. Some plants will reward your efforts at cultivation with a bountiful harvest, and may even provide you with new plants! Think of an apples, coconuts, or passionfruit; as they ripen, they fall, perhaps even roll a short distance, and potentially settle in fertile soil to produce a new plant. Can this happen with people?
Definitely! Like an apple tree, fruit can fall from the branches. You can have that happen two ways. You can wait for gravity to make that happen naturally, or you can provide nature with a gentle push and give the tree a shake. This method is faster, and tends to yield a higher return. In business, the natural method relates to having a customer offer you a recommendation (or recommending you to someone who then contacts you). The recommended contact is a warm lead because of the relationship you both have with your customer. Shaking the tree, on the other hand, corresponds to you asking your customer for recommendations. If you’ve provided him or her with an ultra-positive customer experience, then that person is happy to recommend you to their friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. Notice that both methods trace back to the beginning. Providing a positive experience at the time of the sale, coupled with fantastic, on-going support, is the foundation for receiving recommendations, no matter which method you use. Naturally, I suggest going with the latter. You’ll get more bang for your buck. Additionally, you can shake the tree more than once…allowing an appropriate amount of time between “rattles,” naturally.
No Prospect Left Behind
There are more ways of attracting new customers than I could possibly cover here today. However, hopefully we all walk away with this main thought: Keeping existing customers happy is one of the best ways to find new customers. A satisfied customer will refer you to new prospects, and will do so willingly. A dis-satisfied customer will bad mouth you to more people than you can imagine. So, keep your customers satisfied by making sure their customer experience is positively incredible from start to finish, and you’ll reap the rewards in increased sales, leading to more referrals. Don’t leave money on the table, and especially don’t leave prospects behind due to poor support of your existing customers.
Need help analyzing your existing customer experience program? Give us a call in the office at 646-340-8087; we’re happy to help put you in touch with experts in the field of customer service. Sign up for blog updates, and we’ll list your business on the corporate directory at GoSmallBiz.com, free for a year (don’t worry; after the year is up, the listing simply expires, so you won’t get a bill in the mail)!