Companies, large and small, are working harder than ever to become 100% customer sensitive as they attempt to gain and keep their customers. Yet the customers still leave. What can we, as small and medium size businesses, do to get the “edge” over the competition? This second segment of our three part series gives even more ways to acquire and keep those valued customers.
9. Stay in touch with your customers. Send helpful information to them. A one-page “newsletter” or “tips for the day” or a “bulletin” can do wonders for retaining those precious customers. You can always add a couple of “specials” to the information sheet, just don’t make it all advertising.
10. Make your business look different. After awhile, all stores and businesses “look alike” to the customers. Think about what you can do to set your store or business apart – change the colors or change the sign, or the company logo. Add an additional line of products or services to what you already have. Make an effort to be different.
11. Ship FREE. If you do anything by mail, you will see a dramatic increase in business if you offer to ship free. “Fast, free shipping” would certainly catch the customer’s attention.
12. Send holiday “thank you” cards. Since Christmas cards can sometimes “get lost in the shuffle”, why not try sending a “thank you” card at Thanksgiving?
13. Offer more “freebies” than your competitors. This is especially valuable to mail order, direct mail or on-line businesses. However, any type of business can offer a “freebie” in conjunction with a special sale. A “freebie” with a high perceived value, can increase the sale of almost any product or service.
14. Be enthusiastic. An up-beat, positive attitude will let the customer know you are happy they are doing business with you. Enthusiasm rubs off. People will stay around longer in an enthusiastic atmosphere than they will where it seems cold and indifferent. And the longer customers stay around the more they will probably buy!
15. Hold a customer “appreciation” day. Years ago one particular store in the small town I grew up in, held an appreciation day every year, and gave out balloons to the kids, had hot dogs and coffee available free and really went all out with banners and signs and goodies for the customers. All day long it was like a family reunion with people everywhere. And customers were buying!
16. Answer the telephone promptly and don’t act hurried. Acting hurried raises the customer’s anxiety level and gives them the idea that you really would rather be doing something else instead of talking to them. It’s telling the customer that you’re “too busy” for them. Even if you ARE busy, use a normal conversational tone on the telephone or the customer will call somewhere else where the attendant will have time for them.
Start putting these “customer loyalty” principles to use in your own business and propel your business forward faster than the competition. Go back and review the first segment again and start putting it all together.
Next week we’ll add the final segment to building customer loyalty.