This is my first post for The Small Business Blog and what I’ll be concentrating on in the posts to come is how we can build better relations with our customers thus raising our level of customer focus.
What that means is that I’ll be sharing with you some simple and practical strategies that will help you engage new customers, keep existing customers for longer, deliver great service and to get them to help you spread the good word about you and your business.
What that doesn’t mean is that I’ll always advocate the use of extra or new technology (Sorry, Stefan).
It also doesn’t mean that I’ll write about creating more up-sell or cross-sell opportunities.
Well, that’s possibly wrong and it may happen. But, I don’t like the up-sell or cross-sell language. Why? Because those terms are focused on the interests of your business and not necessarily on the interests of your customers.
I believe that if we focus on the relationships that you have in your business and build and develop those then the opportunities to grow your business will come.
Let me give you an example of a customer that I worked with and the sort of simple and practical strategy I helped him implement that helped him grow his business by 50% over 18 months.
My customer was an IT services company that was providing IT hardware and support to schools, charities and local professional service firms. With little or no marketing, the firm had grown organically, through word of mouth recommendation, to a point that they had a team of eight people. Their existing customers kept them very busy but they found that their growth had stalled.
Looking at this more closely, we discovered that one of the issues that they faced was that they were always busy on customer projects. You might say that’s a good thing. And it is. However, what was also happening was that they were in danger of neglecting the relationships they had with their customers.
It’s like any relationship. I think we’ve all been there, at one time or another, where we get really busy with all of the stuff that we have going on in our lives that we sometimes forget how people around us feel and the relationships we have with them.
It’s not that their customers felt or were saying that they were neglected. It’s that they weren’t taking care of those relationships as well as they could.
Therefore, what we suggested was that the Managing Director started to call and email his customers or a regular basis. Not to sell them anything but just to enquire how they were and how things were going for them. In addition to this, we also suggested that he put aside Friday afternoons, as much as possible, to go round and see his customers.
What happened? Well, they gained a much better understanding of their customers businesses and lives, they built their relationships with their customers beyond being just about business which helped put them more ‘front of mind’ in a really positive way. The result: more projects, more referrals, better testimonials and 50% more business in 18 months.
Sometimes it’s the simplest things in life that can offer the best returns.