CUSTOMER TIP: Words have meaning. At least, they should. Unfortunately more often than not, in this new age of slogans and gimmicks, mission statements and goal setting, companies forget to “say what they mean, and mean what they say”.
Just because your receptionist SAYS ‘thank you for calling’ to each customer before she speeds through the company name and the other phrase she’s required to say… doesn’t mean she’s actually appreciative for that customer’s call. It’s obvious in the robotic, memorized cadence in how the words are delivered with each call. Making someone say something doesn’t force them to feel it.
The real key is to help employees understand why customers are important. Our purpose for coming to work each day must be more than to get a paycheck at the end of the week. Employees need to understand that it is a customer that actually pays our checks, keeps the lights on and truly holds the cards for any given business.
Without our customers coming back, we face the harsh reality facing many companies these days – the doors closing, families losing jobs, owners losing even more.
Sounds obvious, yet many companies concern themselves with new customers at the expense of current customers.
Ever see the cable or phone company ‘special deals’ on TV? They always end in “applicable to new customers only”. That actually penalizes me for being a current customer.
Loyal customers are the key to a successful business. If you don’t believe it – neglect them. Especially in today’s market place, such neglect or perception thereof won’t be tolerated.
So how do you get or keep loyal customers?
Start with Communication. Consistent communication is important. Don’t confuse this with continuous sales pitches – pestering them can be as damaging as neglecting them.
- A regular (weekly, monthly, quarterly – depends on your industry) newsletter or flier (mailed or emailed) keeps your company name in the foreground of your customers’ psyche.
- A reminder card for a tune up, regular service, or suggested service shows you care. A follow up phone call ensures your contact information continues to be accurate and again, illustrates your concern and reminds them that they matter to you and your business.
- A greeting card, whether at the holidays, a customers’ anniversary, as an appreciation for their business or birthday recognition personalizes your company to your individual customers.
Be sure you know them. Know what/how they order. Know the frequency and what motivates their decision. If possible, know them personally. Don’t pry for personal information, but knowing your customers and being able to ask “how’s your son’s little league team doing” or “how was your vacation last month?” demonstrates that it isn’t just their business but the individual customer that means something to you.
Show your appreciation. Thank You Cards and phone calls really do make a difference. In addition, providing customer incentives that are only available to Current (LOYAL) Customers speaks volumes. Show your customers that you notice that they’ve been loyal. This doesn’t have to be expensive, infact it may look like you might be charging too much to begin with if you just offer some gift (wine, golf outing, etc.) Instead, offering free shipping, cleaning or a free service or product you sell encourages your customers to come back. It GIVES them something they would normally have to pay for to receive. Recognize they have other options and encourage in your words and actions the importance of their loyalty to your business.
Take the time to write personal notes and send cards. Send themed Christmas cards to clients during the holidays. Cardscheaper.com has a huge selection of industry specific holiday cards to ensure your company’s card stands out and gets you noticed. Adding your company logo to a greeting card created specifically for accountants further focuses your client on your company. Visit www.cardscheaper.com and view the selection of professional, whimsical and artistic greeting cards for your industry.