Think of the effort it takes to acquire a new customer, whether it’s from a cold call, a mailout or a referral. A lot of work goes into securing that new job, getting to know the customer, understanding their needs, explaining your services and how you operate, etc.
No business will succeed without acquiring new customers, but are you focusing enough on retaining your existing customers? If not, I have a few tips.
Existing customers are much easier to do business with. They know how you operate and what to expect. Most importantly, you’ve dealt with them before so you know what they expect of you in return.
Stay connected: Whether it’s a phone call out of the blue, an email or a tweet, let your past customers know you haven’t forgotten about them.
Become a resource: If you hear through the grapevine (or, as its currently known, social media) that a past client is looking for assistance or a referral and you know someone who might fit the bill, let them know about it.
Ask for feedback: Throughout your working relationship, ask for consistent feedback on how you can tailor your services to better suit your client’s needs.
Share: Have you read a good book your client may be interested in? Are you attending a seminar in you think may help your client? Have you stumbled on a great website (such as this one) that your past customers may find interesting? Share it with them.
Reward loyalty: Consider implementing a loyalty plan for existing customers, be it a special offer, a value add or simply a bottle of wine. Let them know you appreciate their business.
Follow through: If you discuss a new idea, resource or topic with a past or existing client, follow through. Nothing is worse than someone who “said they would.”
Keep learning: If you focus regularly on attaining new knowledge and insights, you have more to offer your existing customers.
It’s much cheaper to retain existing customers than it is to acquire new ones. Spending a little effort in customer retention not only improves your bottom line and saves you time in the long run, it helps foster a relationship that, nurtured correctly, can turn into referrals in the long run.
Jake Thomas is a small business owner based in the southern suburbs of Sydney. Dividing his time between operating Emroy Print & Design and being a part owner of Small Business Forum has given Jake a keen understanding of all things business, marketing and management. More information about Jake can be found at www.itsjakethomas.com.
Image by Rufino Uribe