Would you rather go out to a different store every time you want to buy something, never being completely satisfied with what you get, and having to look for a new store on each new shopping trip or would you rather go to the same store and get everything that you need and want each time you go? The same is true for your customers. Just like anyone seeking a relationship, customers want a long-standing business relationship not a one night stand. To get your business to flourishing you need to focus on your customers and their satisfaction.
The real value of your customers is found in the second and third purchase and every one after that. You can grow the value of your business by growing the value of your customer base. When you create a marketing campaign, look at both the immediate return on investment you expect as well as the long term customer value that you are providing.
You need to get in your customer’s shoes. By having an intimate knowledge of what your customers really want from your product or service or what their real pain or desire is you will be able to create customer-driven marketing. Rather than a traditional campaign that screams ME, ME, and more about ME, a company with a customer relationship focus approaches it from the opposite angle of YOU, YOU, YOU. Try using secret shoppers. This doesn’t need to be an expensive initiative but it can yield a priceless return. Sit down and make a list of what needs to happen to create an excellent customer experience for anyone interacting with your company. Have someone test your operational process on how you do in each of these criteria. Identify areas for improvement and come up with a way to implement those improvements.
In-store surveys are another easy way to determine the level of your customers’ satisfaction. If you or one of your employees speak with your customers ask them to be candid with you about your product or service and ask them to tell you what they are satisfied or dissatisfied with (always asking for both so you can get an understanding of your strengths and your weaknesses). Making efforts in these areas shows your customers and your employees that you are creating a culture of continuous improvement and one that encourages open feedback. Make sure that you act on what you uncover. There is nothing worse than asking people how you can do better and then ignoring their response. Not only is it a waste of your time, it is also insulting to those you asked.
Customer relationships are more profitable than transactions. When you look at the cost of acquiring a new customer versus the cost of retaining an existing customer the mathematical conclusion is obvious. It is much cheaper to keep who you’ve already got, than to go out and try to market and sell to a bunch of strangers. Instead of launching a marketing campaign that will target new customers, look into campaigns that will encourage your current customer base to expand their relationship with you, and introduce you warmly to a friend. You can use promotional items with your existing customer base to further ingrain your brand into their life. By keeping an existing customer happy and giving them a useful gift you are enabling them to do grassroots marketing for your business by toting your brand name around. They are more than likely to promote you to their friends and family when they’re happy and it’s very likely that those people are also your target customers, as birds of a feather tend to flock together. With this tactic you can kill two birds with one stone, making this both efficient and effective.
You also need to focus on how your employees treat customers. A company that encourages employees to mirror their customer’s mood, being extra friendly to customers that are seeking that kind of relationship and being quietly at the ready for a new customer that seems to not want to be bothered by a salesman is a company that is going to earn long-standing relationships with all sorts of customers. Training videos can be a useful way to teach employees these kinds of techniques when working with different types of customers. You can disseminate the information widely and have it for posterity, and not have to reinvent the wheel each time you hire someone new.
Without customers you don’t have a business. Keeping that at the forefront of your business plan, and making every effort to find and keep good customers, your business is sure to flourish. For more information on how you can form lasting relationships with your customers, visit www.flourishingbusiness.com.
Elizabeth Gordon, founder and President of The Flourishing Business, LLC, is a visionary leader who has a passion for helping others achieve their entrepreneurial dreams and enjoy more of the best in life. With a vast and diverse background in many business arenas, Elizabeth regularly has the opportunity to share her business acumen with clients, large and small. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), Atlanta and the Board of Directors of the American Association of University Women (AAUW) Atlanta. She is an Accredited Executive Associate of the Institute for Independent Business (IIB) and a certified Life Coach.