By CAREEREALISM-Approved Expert, Deborah Shane
People will remember how you made them feel! Follow these tips from career expert Deborah Shane to create and maintain great relationships with your customers.
What kind of experience do you want customers to have with you and your business?
How do you keep customers happy, engaged and continuing to refer you?
We are all working so much harder today to find, qualify, develop and close new customers. The effort you put into retaining customers is almost more important than finding them. Loyalty? Gone. Poor customer service has compromised loyalty more than any other factor. Why companies cut back and cut corners on customer service is so short sighted.
The impact of customer retention is felt in 3 ways:
1. Profitability: 5-20% more expensive to find a new customer than to keep one.
2. Revenue: Just 5% more retention can translate into 77% more revenue over 10 years.
3. New Business Development: Reputation plus referrals equals growth!
Information from www.sba.gov.
I know for me, if a vendor is NOT paying attention to me, not speaking to me with respect, and doesn’t show me an appreciation for being a customer, I am gone to one that will and does.
There are very few “exclusive” companies (besides the IRS) where competition doesn’t give you a choice.
So, what can and should you be doing today to ‘always be retaining?’
I love the concepts in Seth Godin’s Lynchpin, where he talks about the new world of work. He defines the lynchpin mentality as, working toward being “indispensable,” someone who makes a difference, leads and connects others. Treating your customers with this kind of attitude and mindset will set you up for long term customer relationships and success. Invest in training your employees to ‘always be retaining’ and it will pay off big!
As I look back on my long career path, sales and customer service underlie all of the parts, cycles and phases. Business is sales. Without sales there is no business. I am not sure why this fundamental idea is not taken more seriously, by businesses and professionals today. They still view sales as a dreaded activity they have to do. Well, you absolutely are in sales.
There is a NEW FACE AND LANGUAGE for sales today. It is based on the six fundamentals we presented plus the qualities that make you ‘indispensable,’ someone your customers can’t envision living or being without. That is a coveted position to work yourself into.
So the six step sales process finding a prospect, qualifying that prospect, analyzing their needs and matching them with your assets, negotiation, closing and retention remains the same…adding that intangible quality of being indispensable is what sets you apart.
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We are all “salespeople.” Front desk to back stage, anyone in the chain between the customer, sales person, sales team IS IN sales. When that experience is unified for the customer through the chain and they have a consistent memorable experience, then and only then can you retain them and foster them becoming you biggest cheerleaders!
Here are 5 tips for creating consistent and memorable customer experiences.
Train your entire staff to “always be retaining” by being:
1. Polite: Speak and act respectfully no matter what.
2. Knowledgeable: Know your company, product, service, market and competition.
3. Sense of Humor: Nothing bonds people more than an appropriate sense of humor.
4. Personal: Own your time with people on the phone or in person. Focus on them.
5. Out-Servicing Your Competition: Know what they are not doing and do it.
There are so many social tools today that make communicating, rewarding and surveying your customers at the same time easy. Use them and leverage them to engage, connect and serve.
Customers are hungry for real people to simply answer the phone and say, “Welcome to Train with Shane, this is Deborah, how may I serve you?” Yes, it costs more, but, trust me it costs way more when customers flee and go somewhere else!
How do you retain customers?
CAREEREALISM Expert, Deborah Shane delivers business education and professional skill development specializing in women in business, those in career transition, sales and personal and social brand strategy and integration. Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.
The photo for this article is provided by Shutterstock.