Contributed by Jeanette Gardiner
One of the books in my library is “Start with Why” by Simon Sinek. A sentence in that book really struck a chord with me: “Loyalty is when people are willing to turn down a better product or price to continue doing business with you.”
When you picture your current customers, do you believe they would willingly turn down a better product, service or price to continue working with you? If you can’t answer that question with a resounding “YES!” then it may be time to look at (among other things) what you’re doing to nurture those relationships and build loyalty.
If you aren’t yet in the practice of building loyalty because it seems too complicated or time-consuming, or you just aren’t sure where to start, here are five ideas that will help:
1. “Wow” your customers. In other words, provide exceptional service. OK, so this is (or should be) a no-brainer but I’m still amazed at what passes as “exceptional” service. Are you providing just the services or products promised? While that may be honoring your commitments, there are always ways to add value. Present a common solution in an uncommon way. Follow through and follow up in a timely manner. Keep your promises. These suggestions may seem like common sense, but how often do you actually see them in practice?
2. Be a problem solver for your customers. Find ways to help them even if the problem isn’t the one you were hired to solve. Can you refer them to a trusted business or other resource to solve their problem?
3. Be thoughtful. How? One way is by sending greeting cards at unexpected times of the year (a Groundhog Day card with a clever greeting always brings a smile). Remember birthdays and anniversaries (business anniversaries as well as personal). Have a process for gathering this type of information from customers when your business relationship begins.
4. Be present. Turn off the smartphone, email, and any other distraction. Hold your thoughts and responses until your customer finishes speaking. If you need to take notes, go old school and grab a pen and paper. The clicking of a keyboard can be very loud and distracting (and if you’re on the phone, how does your customer know that you aren’t multitasking?).
5. Be a resource for your customers. Provide information, resources, and tips that you know customers will appreciate and find useful. Even, and especially, if it doesn’t have anything to do with the work you’re doing for them. Again, a process for collecting this type of information right from the start will help you spot the “right” information, resource or tip when you see it.
Loyal customers are essential for business success and building a loyal following of customers is all about nurturing those relationships. And as anyone knows, lasting relationships take time to develop. Invest in your business today by finding simple, meaningful, and unique ways to ensure your customers today continue to be your customers tomorrow.
About Jeanette Gardiner
Jeanette Gardiner lives in Palmer, Alaska, and is the Owner of SeaStar Strategies LLC where she helps time-strapped small business owners discover the gift of time by streamlining their administrative and marketing systems. Learn more at www.seastarstrategies.com.