And keeping them happy

By the time you read this, it will most likely be the new year. And as soon as everyone gets back from leave, takes a week of re-organising their desk, files and remembering what it is that they do, usually the first thing they start thinking about is how to get more new business through the door.

And the new year is a great time to start thinking about that. But that’s for another blog – in fact, we’ve already written one on that.

We’ve all seen or heard the research that says it costs more to get a new customer than to keep an existing one (and potentially up-sell them along the way). And, unless you’re in start up mode, chances are you’ve already got some existing customers on your books. So , today we thought we’d explore how to keep those folks happy.

Many people think customer happy-ness in general is about price – the lower the price, the happier the clients will be. But that’s a furphy and really, that’s just a race to the bottom. There will ALWAYS be someone who’s cheaper than you. And if all you’re competing on is price, chances are your profit margin isn’t going to be terribly healthy.

Rather, customers and clients often leave based on their experience of dealing with you. So often, business owners get caught up perfecting the details of the products or services they provide, but forget to think about that.

What affects your customers’ experience? 

Well, here’s a quick checklist, but it could be anything.

  1. What your reception looks like (yes – we had a client once whose reception actually turned business away once clients visited – it just didn’t look or feel like the clients’ thought it should).
  2. How you answer the phone
  3. Your purchase process
  4. The language you use in proposals/quotes/business correspondence
  5. The turnaround time for delivery of products or services
  6. Your availability to discuss questions or issues with your clients
  7. How often you talk to/check-in with your clients (without trying to sell them something)
  8. Any extra products/services/advice or value-adds you add in along the way
  9. Your management of product or service issues

It might even be how long you take to reply/talk to them on social media. The only way to tell for absolute certain is to ask them. And most of the time, they’ll be only too happy to tell you.

If you’re shy, ask a couple of your favourite (and ideal) clients what they think you do well and what they’d change if they ran your business. The trick is to ask them to be completely honest and receive any negative feedback with gratitude. After all, feedback is a gift – however it may be disguised when you receive it. You might even send them a thank you card, bottle of wine, etc to say thank you.

Once you’ve got that feedback, look at how you can change your existing services to incorporate things that might not be working for your existing clients and maximise the things they say are working well.

It’s all about making their buying process as easy as possible and valuing their custom.

Conduct this kind of audit yearly and you’re certain to keep your clients happy and maintain the relationships that are key to your business stability.

Here’s to a spectacular start to 2014. Enjoy the break (or the peace in the office). If we can help you build a stronger business or sort your personal financial affairs in 2014, we’d be delighted to help.

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