Last week, I gave you a metaphor to consider — the idea that we romance clients or customers to get them (like a first few dates), but after they are clients we tend to focus less attention on them (like 10 years after the wedding).
If you want to avoid this tendency — both personally and organizationally — here are five ideas to get you started. You will come up with additional ones as you read. Let’s not waste any more time …
Listen more. No distractions, no agendas. Just listen. No next sales pitch, no sharing your plans. Just listen. People are truly listened to so rarely that when you do, it will stand out. (That’s why you do it early on.) Recognize that you may not know everything about their business and situation. Close your mouth, open your ears and listen to your customers.
Respond quicker. Quick — which phone calls and emails do you respond to first … the new (or potential) customers or the long-term ones? While we likely want to be responding quickly to all of them, if your honest answer was “the new ones,” you might want to re-think that. Can you tell if someone is taking you for granted, even just a little? Yep, so can your customers.
Say thank you. Just like your mom taught you. You are grateful for their business, right? Think it, say it and mean it.
Find other ways to help them. When you know their business and needs better there are likely other ways you can help them; referrals you can make, connections you can forge. Don’t make these all about making another dollar; make it all about the customer and their success.
Find ways to delight them. After all, isn’t delight what you are trying to do in the dating process? Isn’t that the goal — to become such the obvious choice that they wouldn’t want to pick anyone else? While all of the four suggestions above may actually provide a sense of delight in and of themselves, think about what else you could do. Could you occasionally send a small gift of thanks? Could you offer a special bonus to them? Could you provide a service at no (or low) cost? Could you offer them first option at new services? Could you provide them with a sneak peek of what is new? You could do most, if not all of these things, and 100 more “just because.” Yet, you likely aren’t.
I hope you see the power in this blog post — that simply deciding to focus on your customers and letting them know they matter to you is the first step toward greater customer retention and better (and better) customer relationships.
As a leader, start applying these ideas and expecting them of your team. The results might be more immediate and broad reaching than you realize.