For a small business, customer retention can prove as profitable as sourcing new customers. In fact, retaining current customers can be more cost-effective as no outgoings are necessary to market and sell to them. You have already got them hooked; now you just need to keep them!
The key to keeping customers, and I’m sure this won’t be a surprise to you, is customer service. A sure fire way to lose a customer is to provide bad customer service, and in a similar way good customer service can keep people coming back time and time again. Word of mouth also means that good customer service can bring you new clients; although not as quickly as bad customer service will mean potential clients write you off! A bad reputation will stick, and you need to bear this in mind when dealing with each and every one of your customers. How many of us haven’t ranted to our friends about our dealings with a service provider?
But, what makes good customer service? First, it is important to remember that it is your customers who keep you in business. So, listen to them. Get to know them, answer their questions and always be courteous and polite even if you’ve had an awful day!
Help people to understand what they are buying from you. Not only explain the intricacies of your systems, software or products, but also sell them the attention to detail, patience and customer care that comes with buying from your small business. Make sure people understand what you are selling them; if they struggle, find it awkward to use or difficult to get to grips with you customer will become frustrated and this won’t reflect well on you.
When dealing with an angry or frustrated customer, take a deep breath and be patient, understanding and sympathetic, without being patronising or condescending. Help them through their problem, if necessary apologise, and thank them for their custom.
If a customer comes to you with a problem, never underestimate the power of saying “yes”. Always try to resolve an issue; customers will appreciate you going beyond the call of duty for them. They will then tell their friends and, hey presto, you’ve not only retained your current customer you’ve also appealed to new ones.
As a customer I always appreciate a smile, a thank you and personal service. So why shouldn’t I strive to give my customers the same? The answer is that I do. Do you?