We (well most of us, most of the time) spend so much time on acquiring new customers that it can sometimes be that we forget the best way to grow a business (or have a sustainable business) is to hold on to the ones we have already.
We all start with the best of intentions – and often one of the drivers for starting our own business is that we want to give better service than wherever it was we worked before!
More personal service, quicker service, more tailored to the customer’s needs. Those are definitely all achievable as a small business. We can be closer to our clients – listening and gathering requirements before we work with them and then working with them personally – instead of perhaps a sales person promising the world and someone else then fulfilling the contract!
And at the start at least we can respond quickly – and can hopefully continue that way.
- We get busy
- We get complacent
- We forget things
And we risk compromising that great service level.
So Rule No 1 in customer is to work out what your service level is, and stick to it.
Remember of course that communication is the key – and being honest with clients up front will be your best course of action. And also – you are better to turn down work than do it badly – so find someone who can take the load off. (You also of course have the opportunity to grow your own team)!
Now we are making sure we are giving the best service we can but there is still more we can do.
Remember the customer journey – we want to DELIGHT our customers whenever we can.
We can do that by giving them something they were not expecting. What can you offer a customer – or simply do for them – that wows them but doesn’t actually cost you that much? It doesn’t have to be a big thing – but unexpected.
By continuing to communicate and to listen. Actually giving clients attention, when you’re not trying to sell them something, is huge.
By being proactive – anticipate their needs. Sometimes you can see what is coming in their industry, or you might be aware of e.g. changes in legislation before they are!
If you have clients on a retainer then don’t fall into the trap of thinking they pay and will forget about it – sometimes people review their spending – make sure that when they look at the money going out every month they understand what value they are getting.
In my previous life as a software implementation specialist I used to organise regular review meetings with clients on support. Support is a funny thing though – often you can be working in the background making sure that everything works well, but the client just thinks “nothing ever goes wrong”. IT companies in particular can find themselves dropped for a cheaper provider because of this – and then later the client realises..
So have a think (even if you think you are already doing this!) and let me know below:
- what you can do that would be unexpected
- what you can do to communicate better or listen to customers
- where you can be proactive and make their lives easier
All of which will mean your customers stick with you!
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