Customers are the fundamental backbone of any small business. Their repeat business ensures that you will remain successful going into the future and so it’s worth investing time and money into maintaining positive relationships with them. It’s been found that it is 6-7 times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep a current one. While it’s always important for you to be sourcing new clients, if you can effectively maintain customers, you are eliminating the stresses that come with maintaining a steady client base, while dramatically reducing the time and costs associated with the daunting task of sourcing new ones.
Maintaining these customers can be done in a number of ways and often the most successful methods are the most simple. Too many companies make the mistake of treating their sales and customer service staff like machines in a factory, constantly churning out answers that sound like what you might want to hear, but don’t actually answer the questions. Premeditated apologies, generic and unspecified answers, being thrown between different levels of staff becomes the norm, all to provide the illusion that you are being taken through a process to arrive at a solution that never seems to transpire in the end. The focus shifts from actually assisting the customer, to following protocols that make it seem like they are being assisted – which can be just as frustrating, especially if you’re just looking for a straight-forward answer from a real-life human.
So when you’re planning a customer service strategy, remember that people like to interact with real people. Set up a face-to-face call, be conversational in the way in which you talk to them, listen to their concerns and show them that you can relate to their frustrations – use their names. Even if you can’t solve their problems, don’t ever let them feel like their time wasn’t valued. Let them know how valuable their feedback has been and that their problems will always be taken seriously. Follow up with them whenever possible. This is important because, 70% of buying experiences are based on how the customer feels they are being treated, and if you demonstrate their importance to them, in a personalised manner – they will always feel valued.
But first, you first need to really know them. Don’t just use their name, know it. Make sure your conversations always go beyond business, ask them about their pets, their family and their desires when appropriate. If you feel comfortable, do some online research about them. Connect on social media and find areas where you might be able to relate to one another. Once you have a good understanding of who they are and what they value, you can understand the ways in which your products and services can really benefit them.
You need to start seeing feedback as a positive step forward for your business. Everyone wants a flawless product or service because if it really is the best, people will start to flock to it naturally. You achieve this through constant re-evaluation of your product through the feedback you receive from your customers. This feedback at times will be harsh, sometimes it will be unjustified but in every case there is something to take away from it. It’s an opportunity to identify something you may have missed and fix it, using that all important customer service strategy.
A study published by Ruby Newell-Legner found that a business typically only hears from 4% of dissatisfied customers, where 91% will simply never come back. It can be assumed that they are turning away because they don’t feel like their problems would be addressed, so give them an opportunity to provide feedback and connect with a customer service rep who makes them feel valued, and they’ll be more likely to stick around.
An easy way for you to allow customers to provide quick and scrupulous feedback, while maintaining an open line of contact is through social media. Once you have developed a social media presence, you can engage with customers directly, monitor conversations about your business and source new customers on a cheap and effective platform. Each site essentially becomes review pages for your products/ services. This way, you can demonstrate your customer service abilities on a public platform, while adding your own promotional content to help shape the way in which the audience views your business. This is important because 58% of Americans perform online research about the products/ services they are considering purchasing – and this could be a great way to influence these decisions.
In summary, it’s important to take away these key tips when trying to strengthen relationships with your customers. Show that you are a human with emotions, and ensure customers know that they are being heard and be open to criticism and inviting of feedback from your customers, as it is a fundamental tool for improving your products, services and ultimately your business.