Having the ability to attract terrific customers or clients and retain them is obviously the best outcome for any business, so how do you keep them coming back?
As repeat business is the key – granted it significantly helps contribute to your profits – you need to provide your clientele with a reason to come back. So here are some ways to ensure they do return again and again:
First impressions count
When it comes to business, people will judge it based on their first impression of your product or service and how you deal with them. That includes the way you and/or your staff interact with customers face-to-face, as well as by phone and email. And although it’s an old adage, remember that the way you treat others is really how you treat yourself.
It’s also important to understand that:
- People generally want to be looked after and want some of the attention directed to them.
- They don’t want to be judged.
- They appreciate a genuine smile and courteous, friendly manner.
Strike middle ground
There’s nothing worse than walking into a store and either being hounded by a staff member to the extent where they become annoying, or they completely ignore you. That’s why it’s important to strike some middle ground when dealing with a customer. That is, you give them enough space but still provide them with the opportunity to ask questions. It’s also important to listen to them so you can identify their specific needs.
Rapport building is the cornerstone to positive client relations. Your customers want to feel like you’re interested in their life and not just there to try and sell to them. It’s essential to train your management and staff with rapport-building exercises so they are all on the same page when it comes to approaching and engaging with customers. In saying that, becoming more personable with your customers, such as calling them by their first name, is a good starting point.
Have a point of difference
While you don’t have to reinvent the wheel, it’s important to do something different to what your industry competitors are doing. People are pretty clued-in when they are getting oversold on things, which can become a real turn-off. But if you are interested in them as a person rather than just a number or sales figure, they’ll remember this as a welcome point of difference because you treated them differently to how they are normally treated.
Create a sense of loyalty
Although they are quite prevalent, keep the communication flowing with customer databases, e-newsletters, giveaways, special offers and/or loyalty cards. Sure, not everyone is going to sign up to all of them, but what will get their attention is the one that gives them the greatest benefit and where they feel like they are being genuinely rewarded. It’s always best to think outside the box when it comes to ways of retaining customers and keeping them on your client database. For instance, with the loyalty cards brainstorm ways of bringing some sort of specialness to the customer. Maybe it’s a VIP card with their personalised and/or embossed name on it. Having the name embossed gives people the feeling that they are special and part of something – they feel included and not excluded. It essentially comes down to the psychology of self-worth.
Getting the incentive balance right
When it comes to effective communication, it’s really about achieving the balance between bombarding your customers with messages and not bombarding them at all. You want to subtly remind them of your business, but you also want to communicate quite differently each time. That way it becomes an attractive package or offer for them, instead of the same old thing being repeated over and over. Plus, people tend to have short attention spans. That’s why you should take the time to brainstorm with your team and think of creative ways so that your customers return.
Dealing with complaints
Regardless of how good your business is, when complaints do occur it’s still important to be of service to others rather than always being right. Even if a customer may be wrong, you still need to treat them based on the business mission statement. That is, you are aligning the core values of how the business conducts itself in relation to your customers, because without customers, no business would survive.
Remember that it’s always best to treat each customer as a unique individual and conduct yourself in a way that reflects your core values. After all, every customer who has a good experience will help spread the word so that your business continues to grow.
Does your business have a customer care program?
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