For many business owners, times have been very tough this past year. Businesses have failed, and those that haven‘t will almost certainly have suffered tougher trading conditions if the business confidence surveys are any guide.
The key to maintaining profitability, especially in tough times, is to make certain your regular customers don‘t start looking elsewhere. Assuming your customers have been happy with your services, what can you do to ensure you don‘t fade from their memories when it comes time for them to make decisions?
Keep in touch
Your customers may be very busy people who are not as organised as you might like them to be. This may mean they don‘t automatically think of you when it comes to repeat business. They may not even be aware that you offer additional services that could be useful to them.
In business terms, absence does not make the heart grow fonder; it is far more likely to cause a previous customer to broaden their horizons and take their business somewhere else. Their initial pleasure at a job well done by you will fade with time.
To counteract this, you need to keep in regular contact ‘" at least six times a year. And remember to ascertain at the outset whether there are certain times when your customer must make buying decisions, so you can say hello just prior to them doing so. This is the same reason insurance brokers always ask when your renewal is due; so they can bid for your business before you give it to another provider.
Remember also that in this technological age it is still possible to pick up the phone and speak to a person. You don‘t have to always email or text a customer. Verbal contact is effective, and sending a good old-fashioned paper letter can work wonders as it demonstrates a level of service and effort that is largely overlooked these days.
Customers like to see that you are interested in their business not yours. Of course you are talking to them because you want their custom, but providing a service is all about catering to the other person‘s needs, and this is the core principle of the most successful ventures. If the customer feels they are being understood and taken seriously, they are more likely to come back for more.
Asking questions shows that you are keen to meet their exact requirements, and may even uncover important issues that weren‘t in their mind. Being able to do this is a great skill and demonstrates that your interest goes beyond making money for yourself. It marks you out as a service provider whose business is based on satisfying client needs. In many cases, clients sometimes don‘t know themselves what they really need, and this is why they come to you in the first place ‘" for your expert input.
This means standing out from the crowd, and however you can do this ‘" short of becoming annoying ‘" will be good for your business. The bottom line is that you should be memorable because the service or product you provide is so outstanding that it sticks in the mind. But beyond that, there are smaller tricks you can employ.
You might want to make contact with them and include a gift. It doesn‘t have to be much. You could include a free sample of your wares to keep your business fresh in their mind. If you are a service provider and don‘t have products as such, then turning the customer‘s business card into a luggage tag and sending it back to them is a great idea. A pen, a keyring, anything that marks you out as different and willing to offer that little bit extra. Remember that a few cents outlay now could bring in a big sale at a later date.
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