It’s said that the purpose of a business is to create a customer. This might be true at a basic level. But it also points to the reality that one of the ongoing purposes of a business should be to KEEP a customer. As business owners we can’t argue this point. But creating and maintaining quality customer relationships can be difficult. It’s one of the biggest challenges facing small business owners.
It’s easy to get used to having customers. But this risks expecting that your customers are always happy. Or that they’ll keep coming back, and bring their friends with them. Let’s not forget that customers thrive on relationships like everyone else. If you’re not careful, customer relationships can become superficial and counter-productive.
Don’t “go through the motions” with your customers expecting they’ll always be there. This is a definite path to disaster. No one wants to feel taken for granted. In today’s world there are a massive number of choices available to your customers. This only increases your customers’ fickleness. You’re not working to gain a customer’s business, you must also gain their loyalty and advocacy.
5 Sure-Fire Ways To Lose Your Customers
The old cliché about “the customer is always right” can sometimes be dubious. But it’s true that keeping an old customer is much cheaper than finding a new one. So it’s worth looking at some of the most detrimental errors small businesses make in this area:
1. Questionable Integrity
This could be as simple as you or your staff making excuses for poor service or products. It could be using sales or marketing tactics that could seem deceptive. Your customers must see your business as trusted and reliable.
2. Hard To Do Business With
Don’t make your customers work to give you their money. Nor should they have a fight on their hands if they need to return your product or are unhappy with your service. If you make it hard for your customers, there’s always someone else who’s willing to go the extra mile for them. It’s easy to work out who they’ll do business with next time.
3. Not Paying Attention
You can fall foul of this anywhere, anytime … on the phone, in person, by email, even over the internet. Answer your phone quickly. Acknowledge your customers every chance you get. Greet them with a smile on your face when they walk in the door, or when you answer the phone. This is basic, good business sense.
4. Boring & Predictable
Your business may have been around for 50 years, but it doesn’t mean it has to look like it. Surprise and delight your customers with innovation. This doesn’t mean sacrificing your renowned reliability. Keep up your high standards of quality and excellence.
5. Not Listening
It’s impossible to hide in today’s world. Product and service reviews stay forever on the internet. It’s critical you hear what your customers are saying and respond. This might mean reviewing any relevant blogs or doing regular market research. Set up systems to watch when someone mentions your company on the internet. Keep in touch and talk with your customers.
What Customers Want
The customer may not always be right. But there’s one thing that you can’t afford to ignore – the customer rules. This means that the needs, wants and desires of your customers must come first. It might also mean that things have to change if you can’t afford “business as usual” any longer.
The good news is that there are many ways to engage your customers and prospects. At the same time you can keep your finger on the pulse of your customer base. As a business owner you have huge opportunities to win the hearts – and loyalty – of your customers.
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