For anyone who has a business, one of the most valued parts of that business is the customer base. We spend a sizable amount of time, effort, and expense in acquiring customers. It is much easier, requires less time, and costs less money for us to retain those customers rather than go looking for new ones. Why chase new customers when we can retain the ones that we already have?
How do we keep customers happy; how do we get them to value our businesses as much as we should value them as customers? We must show gratitude for their being our customers. This does not mean giving away our product or service. It means treating them in a professional, personable, and polite manner.
Everyone likes to be noticed; everyone likes it. As a child, we liked a pat on the head or shoulder; we liked to be recognized for whatever we did. Our customers are no different. Customers who believe that we care about them keep doing business with us, and they refer business to us.
When we sign a new customer, we must thank them for doing business with us, welcoming them into our customer base, and telling them that we want their feedback on our product or service. We can do this in person, by email, by telephone, or we can send them a card with the message in our own words. Do not ask them to buy anything else, or upgrade; just thank them. Thank them, and don’t ask for anything in return, but their feedback.
Second, we must thank them periodically for continuing to be our customer; again not including any offers for additional products or services. What if our product or service is truly a one-time purchase; it never wears out, or it never needs to be purchased again? Do we really want the customer think that we still don’t care about them? This brings us to the third step.
Happy customers will refer business to us. We want, and need, referrals. This is unpaid advertising. We must thank everyone who refers anyone else to us, even if we do not close the deal. The next referral from that customer might be the biggest deal we ever write. We must always ask a new customer how they knew of us or who, if anyone, referred them. This will show that we care about our customers, including when they refer someone to us.
In addition, capture every customer’s date of birth and anniversary, along with their spouse’s date of birth. Never ask for the year, just the month and day. Then send them a birthday card and an anniversary card, including both spouses in the anniversary card. Also, consider holidays which can provide an opportunity to brighten a customer’s day.
Finally, when we lose a customer (and we all do), send them a thank you for their business, and tell them how sorry we are that we will not have the pleasure of serving them in the future. If we do not know why they have left us, ask them why stopped being our customer. (It does not mean that we will change anything. We should always know why we lose a customer, even if we did nothing wrong or there was nothing else we could do to please them.)
Gratitude Marketing is a fairly easy and inexpensive way to retain our customer base. It sure is a lot easier than listening to the door slam as they leave. It also can lead to more customers through the referrals our customers will send to us. Please leave me your comments, or email me at Jim@JimTeasley.com, or call me at 360-314-8691.