A profitable business starts and ends with a lasting customer relationship.
For a storefront business, it’s been said that success is the result of three things: location, location, location. While that may be an oversimplification, there are three other success words that can’t be overstated: customer, customer, customer.
By placing the customer at the center of all your thinking you create an environment which fosters long term success. A key component of success lies in your ability to generate repeat and referral business, and a sure way to do this is by forming lasting relationships with your customers.
Here are 10 things you can do:
1. Set yourself apart from the competition. Give your customers something they can’t get elsewhere. This is your niche. Make your niche something of real value over time and people will come back again and again.
2. Don’t waste time on activities that can be automated. Automation frees up your time so you can concentrate on the important stuff – your customer.
3. Eliminate the time you spend you on non-productive tasks. For instance, unsubscribe to newsletters your never read instead of deleting them each time. Handle paperwork one time and then file it instead of stacking it in a pile. All these little things add up to lots of wasted time that could be spent on your customer.
4. Concentrate your efforts on marketing to the people that need your service. Start by auditing your marketing and sales data to find out how and why a sale is made. Eliminate or change marketing strategies and services that don’t serve the needs of your customers.
5. Respond to customer correspondence quickly. Response time – from a real person – should be under 24 hours. By responding quickly you send the message that your customers are important and you are genuinely interested in meeting their needs.
6. Follow up on sales orders. Make sure your customer is thoroughly satisfied with their purchase and offer additional services related to their purchase.
7. Give refunds promptly and unconditionally.
8. Ask your customers to fill out a survey so you can better understand their needs. Offer a valuable freebie or a discounted service for participating. This strategy establishes a dialogue between you and the customer and helps determine the direction of your business.
9. Publish a newsletter. Give your subscribers valuable tips and information they can’t get anywhere else. Offer subscriber-only discounts and freebies.
10. Make your site easy to navigate. Customers value their time and appreciate finding what they want quickly and effortlessly.
Imagine every customer as a real person standing in front of you. What are his needs and how well are you addressing these needs? Let this image guide you in all aspects of your business and you’ll discover hundreds of ways to form lasting customer relationships.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Brett Krkosska provides how-to advice on small business and home-based work issues. He is the founder of HomeBizTools and the publisher of Straight Talk, a syndicated column that offers a unique perspective on today’s business issues.