If you're a business owner, you know that repeat business
is critical to your success. It also makes your life much
easier because you can count on ongoing business without
having to continuously find new prospects and convince them
to hire you.
Here are seven ways to keep your customers coming back:
1. Take time to build a relationship
Learn to "visit" instead of being so professional that you
appear rude. Pay attention when you meet with your
customers. Learn about them and their lives. Notice what they hang on their walls and place on their desks. And don't just notice, comment on them. For instance, if your prospect or customer has a huge marlin hanging on his wall, you could say, "I'll bet there's an interesting story that goes with that fish." Your client will be thrilled to tell you about it, and he'll be flattered that you asked. And it would be like ignoring the elephant in the room if you DIDN'T comment on it. Learning about your customer will pay off every day of your relationship.
2. Set realistic deadlines and either meet or beat them.
Nothing impresses a client more than when you follow through
with what you say you will do. Do it fast. Do your best. And
do it right. Clients always want it "yesterday," but if you
know it can't be done that quickly, or it won't be done
correctly because there's not enough time, then speak up
right at the beginning. It's better to set a realistic
deadline and then beat it by a day or two, than accept an
unrealistic one and make the client wait.
3. Make it easy to work with you.
Extend your service hours to cover when your customers want
to talk to you. If your business is tech support or Internet
marketing, remember that peak Net usage is 10 pm. If you're
a night person, you can impress your customers by being
available during their "off" hours.
4. Offer credit card payment options to make it easy for
your clients (and the government!) to pay you.
Today, businesses need payment options. If you're able to
allow them to pay with credit cards, you'll have more
clients. And if you're interested in government business,
this is an easy way to get some of it since most government
agencies are now using credit cards for purchases valued at
less than $2,500.
5. Be flexible--offer to meet for breakfast.
Just like you, your clients are very busy. They have
meetings all day and often during lunch, so it's hard to
find a time to get together. Offer to meet for breakfast
when you and your client are both fresh, or meet after normal work hours to accommodate their schedule.
6. Provide added-value service at no charge.
Give them something they aren't expecting. If you go the extra mile, your customers will notice. You'll soon be the one they turn to when they need a problem solved. It works when your vendors do it for you, doesn't it? It sure does for me! For example, I recently began doing informational teleseminars with industry experts, and I not only needed a bridge line to do them, but I also needed someone to record the seminars for me so I'd have a good finished product to sell through my website. I got one-stop-shopping with Dan Janal at Great Teleseminars, which was perfect. And, when he confirmed the information, he sent me a free copy of two of his ebooks to teach me how to do a good teleseminar! Now that's added value.
7. Refer business to your customers.
If you send business to your customers, it shows how much
value them. Connect one customer with another, if possible.
It's the ultimate thank you.
Lois Carter Fay, APR, is a 30-year veteran in the P.R. and marketing field. She now produces three marketing ezines, Brainy Tidbits, Brainy Flash, and Success Secrets of Women Entrepreneurs. All are free. She's also the co-author with Jim Wilson of "Sales Success! Strategies for Women," a quick-to-read ebook containing 52 easy-to-implement sales tips. The ezines and ebook are available through her websites.
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