By Susan Tucker
There are four pillars to the inbound marketing methodology: attract, convert, close and delight. When thinking about growing your business, it’s easy to focus on the first three. Who doesn’t want more business? But, did you know it actually costs 6-7x MORE to acquire a new customer than it does to keep a current customer?
Think about the growth potential of your business if you could shift some of your marketing energies to delighting your current customer base rather than constantly trying to find new ones.
That’s why I wanted to dig a little deeper to find out ways in which small business owners can focus on keeping who they have, rather than constantly chasing after new business.
Here are a few of my customer retention tips.
The first mind blowing tip: Build Trust
That’s right, trust. Building trust is the core to creating a deeper relationship and therefore delighting your customers. Building trust is hard work and takes time, but is entirely doable if your entire team is on board. When customers trust a brand, they are more likely to recommend it to someone else (83%), and use it frequently (82%).
So, how can you build trust? Here are a few ideas:
- Impeccable customer service. If you have not implemented a company-wide customer service policy, you need to do that ASAP. Customer services does not stop at the front desk. Each person in your company is a responsible for how that company is received with current and potential customers.
- Consistency. This trickles from the top down. If the president is consistent, employees understand their expectation and that trickles into customer service, which builds trust.
- Totally forth-coming. Let’s face it, consumers are smarter now than ever with information always being right at their fingertips. If you are not being transparent, customers are going to call you out on it. If you messed up an order, admit it. Take responsibility for your actions and your customers will admire you for being truthful.
The next mind blowing tip: Be Helpful
Being helpful is an easy way to show customers you care about them (you DO care, right?) Offering your customers a solution to the problem they face is why they’ve come to you in the first place – so don’t leave them hanging! Be helpful by offering solutions to their problems, needs and preferences. This is yet another tactic to further strengthen their brand enthusiasm toward you.
Ways you can be helpful:
- Offer a alternative solution to their problem, so they have choices.
- Show, don’t say.
- Refrain from saying, “May I help you?,” instead say, “My name is Susan, I will be here if there is something I can help you with.”
- Be honest about whether a product/service is a good fit for THEM.
The last mind blowing tip: Educate
Educate, educate, educate. I can’t get this one out there enough. You are likely the most passionate human being in the world on your particular topic. Why not share your knowledge? I know, I know, some folks say this is tricky being that you could expose trade secrets and all, but strategically sharing what you know automatically positions you as a thought leader in your field and therefore you must be the best, right? Right.
Here are a few ways you can educate your customers:
- Offering informative content such as blog posts, ebooks, whitepapers and videos.
- Inviting your customers to tour behind-the-scenes areas of your company.
- Arranging guest speakers to come and present on a topic that is relevant to your customers.
Freebie Tip! Under Promise and Over Deliver
This is one of my most favorite delighting your customer tips of all time. It’s not unique, but it is the effective: under promise and over deliver.
Think about it this way … if you go out to dinner to your favorite restaurant tonight and the hostess says the wait is going to be 45 minutes, you may not be too happy about that wait, but stay because it IS your favorite restaurant, afterall. What if they ended up seating you in 20 minutes? Wouldn’t you be both you’d be surprised AND delighted? However, if they sat you in an hour, you may get pretty frustrated.
The point is that it’s in the hostesses hands as to what she can “promise” to deliver. If she would have said the wait was actually an hour, you can then choose (or not) to stay there, but at least you were told up front.
Under promise. Over deliver.
But, wait! There’s even more!
- Send handwritten thank you notes to new customers (this goes a long way in this day and age of technology).
- Give a freebie! Have you read the fascinating study about how waiters who leave two mints get 21% better tip? Small gesture, hugely effective.
- Check in with your customers. Ask them how it’s going, be personal about it, let them know you value their opinion and feedback.
- Examine your process.
- Call the front desk as a customer and see how your receptionist reacts to challenging questions.
- Go online and checkout as a guest to make sure it’s simple and easy to use.
- Look at all aspects of contact from a customers perspective and tweak it to perfection.
- Use technology to enhance the experience. I recently read an article about how JetBlue uses Twitter to connect and respond to customer tweets (both good and bad). I tweeted about how awesome it was that they do this, and JetBlue responded to ME in less than 15 minutes. I was shocked! And, delighted. If they can give that attention to detail to a tweet, then they MUST go above and beyond to actual customers.
As a small business owner, it may seem daunting to add yet another layer to your process, but if you can make a few small, personalized tweaks, you can keep your customers happy, delighted and coming back for more. Think Apple can be the only brand people can be enthusiastic about? Think again!