Creating loyal customers and keeping them coming back can be a big challenge for business owners. A study from the Harvard Business Review estimates that, on average, businesses lose 50 percent of their customers every five years. How does that relate to your business?
Whether you’re in your 5th or 50th year in business, look at your customer base and think about who keeps coming back and who you only see once or twice. What do you need to do differently with your business to grow your customer base, encourage those people to refer additional customers and keep people coming back? The basics come down to having a quality, fair priced product or service and providing top-notch customer service.
If you’ve been in business for a while – even if you have a turnover on clients – you probably have the quality and pricing elements figured out. What gets most businesses is customer service. In most cases, customers can get a product or service from one of your competitors just as easily as they can get it from you. Your first line of defense will always be the customer service experience. You have to create an experience that doesn’t just satisfy your customers, but exceeds their expectations. According to a guest blog we published a few years ago from Growth Coach Glenn Smith, that usually boils down to one of three things – having great employees who are polite, positive, caring and listen to the customer’s needs; identifying and offering the best solution for any issues and then executing that solution with quality, speed and excellence; and having a simple, clear problem resolution process.
For the next 90 days, challenge yourself to create a system of rating the experiences customers have with your business. Maybe it’s a survey, a follow-up email, a poll on your Facebook page… whatever avenue you take, make it a point to discover how people are feeling about your business and give them a chance to explain their response. Then take time to celebrate the great experiences and address the negative ones. You can learn from those mistakes and fix them in the future, but if you sweep them under the rug, you’re sure to lose clients.