Too often I see commercials for my local telephone provider offering discounts if I sign up to use them over their competitor. What’s frustrating is when I sign up for that great deal, eventually it expires, and my rates start going up. Why do we not offer promos to existing clients, not because we are afraid of losing them, but to show them that we value their business? 

Great customer service has always been important. There is no doubt that you are more likely to visit a store with warm and friendly staff, and sometimes you may even be willing to pay a little bit more for that experience. 

But what happens when your business becomes a given? You are a regular, and you start to feel that the staff is not as outgoing as they once were because they know you’re coming back. 

How does a company ensure that every interaction, whether with a prospect or a long term client, remains as fresh as the first time? What can you do to make a difference? 

Take care of the regular customers you have, offer them promos for staying on-board, perhaps an anniversary discount, or even just to say thank you for their continued patronage. 

Never forget that your clients have options, and although it may be easier to stay with you, they may be willing to deal with the inconvenience of transition to feel appreciated.

While doing research for a client in order to boost their client retention, I have really learned a few things. I thought it would make for a great blog post to help others as well as remind myself.

So we have all used customer relationship management software, whether in the sales process or in the win-back of lapsed clients, it is a fantastic tool to keep all pertinent data in one location. At the click of a mouse, you have the clients information in front of you which gives the customer that personal touch that we all love.

We have also seen customer loyalty programs in business. This may be a retail store offering a free item with the purchase of 3 other items. Or every 4th visit you get a free cup of coffee. While that is nice, it is not the real reason we are patronizing the store. If we didn’t like the product, giving it for free would not really be beneficial to us, would it?

Customer loyalty cannot be bought, it must be earned!

I have loyalty cards from the 8 major grocery chains in my area hanging from my keychain. Does it pay? To build loyalty, you must earn it. But how?

  • Customer communication – be sure to keep in communication with your client base. Send them small thank you’s, birthday cards and company newsletters.
  • Make sure you focus on the customer over your company, keep the focus on the customer’s needs and not your needs (customer centric)
  • Establish good ethics – be a company that the customer can really trust

Customer loyalty and retention is about relationships. If you build a solid foundation, your customer will not only remain but they may just refer new business to you.MA cropped2

With the reports of Circuit City and DHL this morning, it has some more nervous than ever.   DHL has announced that they are shutting down all ground transportation. DHL was quoted as saying that they are hoping “to prepare the company for economic challenges ahead”.  On this same morning, Circuit City announced that they are filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

So in light of all of the changes in our economy, how are you preparing yourself both professionally and personally? 

As a small business owner and operator, I find myself trying to gather all information and taking a good hard look at my plan.  In times of recession, it is very important to do the following:

  • Live within your means – learning to live and work with less is very important as the economic recession continues
  • Pay off all debt and build savings – attempt to pay down as much debt as possible while still building your savings account. I have been attempting to pay cash only when possible for personal purchases, and also keeping the business purchases to “must have” only
  • Enhance customer service – be sure to keep your current customer base satisfied
  • Review and revise your business plan – you should already do this annually, as the New Year approaches, it may be time to make important changes to reflect the current economy
  • Be proactive, not reactive – it is very important to plan and not panic

So what changes will you make today to ensure your safety and security?