"The principal purpose of business is to create a customer." --Peter Drucker
Creating a loyal and respectful relationship with a
potential customer builds the basis for all other areas of
Simply stated, without customers, our businesses would all
A satisfied customer is a customer who provides a continual
income stream and refers others.
Business success starts with the customer. The following six
strategies outline the best and most effective business
1. Customer Service. Typically 68% of a business' customers
leave or go elsewhere for products and services because they
feel they are under appreciated or unimportant.
The perception a customer has of his/her value to a business
plays a very large role in whether or not the customer
What can you do to improve on that statistic? Smile, ask
questions, be friendly and say "Thank You".
Customer service is a seriously neglected facet of most
businesses. As an owner you must set the example for your
No one can do this for you. You can't pay an outside
consultant to smile for you. If you aren't sure where to
start, then pick up a copy of "How to Win Friends and
Influence People" by Dale Carnegie.
2. Existing customers. Another neglected area in most
businesses is the act of communicating with existing
customers. I can't remember the last time a business I
frequented sent me a coupon or note or anything for that
Keeping in contact with customers does not have to be an
extensive and time-consuming endeavor. A monthly
newsletter, a quarterly coupon mailing or a special occasion
or holiday is sufficient. The idea here is not to sell them
something but to simply remind them that you exist and value
3. Referrals. If you are not offering an incentive to your
existing customers to refer new customers to you, you are
missing out on a huge profit center.
Referral coupons are one way of enticing customers to refer.
If a coupon makes it back to you with a new customer, then
the referring customer gets a "spiff". A "spiff" can be a
discount coupon, movie tickets, or a free item, anything
that shows value.
It is important, however, for the "spiff" to be something of
perceived value to the referrer. Cheesy doesn't work. The
referrer needs to be excited or grateful for the "spiff".
4. Thank you. Simply but overlooked. The act of thanking
people for their business. Sending thank you notes to
customers who refer is an important practice.
Most importantly, however is the practice of saying "thank
you" when customer leaves even if he doesn't purchase. How
you say "thank you" is also important.
Many times I say something to the effect of "thank you for
using our services we really appreciate your business".
This says so much more than a simple "thank you" does.
Thank customers for information they provide to you, thank
them for referrals, thank them for keeping you in business,
whatever it is just remember to say "thanks".
5. Testimonials. Overlooked but critical to building
credibility with potential customers.
If you are a brick-and-mortar business you should have
customer testimonials posted where new customers can easily
If you are an online business they need to be front and
center on your web page. Do not hide them behind links, put
them right on the home page.
Testimonials will do more for you than any other type of
advertising. Sprinkle them throughout your mailers, on
postcard mailings, in your office or store, on your web
page, in your emails. Everywhere, you can't wear them out.
6. Rewards. Rewarding customers for their loyalty is a
great way to drive repeat business and boost your bottom
I recently sent out a letter thanking customers for their
loyalty, telling them that they had been added to my VIP
customer list, and presented them with a thank you coupon.
In the letter I also covered new services and products. I
had a 90% response rate. Some customers called just to say
"thank you" and chat.
This form of relationship building is a critical success
The reward program can be points like airlines currently
use, a cash back program, tiered discounts, anything that
motivates the customer to buy more to gain the incentive.
These six strategies are mandatory to building a customer
retention program and for motivating new customers to buy.
Implement one a month for the next 6 months and watch your
sales go up.
Customers need and want to be appreciated and respected;
this should be standard operating procedure for every
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