October 30, 2014

Sales and Marketing Advice for Florida business

How to make sure your customers never dump you for another brand

Ron Stein | 8/24/2014

Customer retention starts before your buyer signs on the dotted line. It’s kind of like dating -- you’re on your best behavior to show why it makes sense to do business with your company while you’re wooing your prospect.

But, what happens once your prospect transitions to customer status? Now, it’s a marriage and at first you’re excited and they’re excited. Yet, doubt can and often does take hold in your new customer’s mind.

Sometimes it creeps in over time. For many buyers it’s almost immediate. Either way, you won’t know it until you receive the phone call -- “We’ve decided to go in another direction and would like to get our money back.”

Or, your soon to be ex-customer just doesn’t purchase again from your company. They never bother to say goodbye and you wonder what’s going on.

This is not good!

Most businesses assume that retention problems are directly related to poor customer service. Certainly, bad experiences will cause customers to switch brands. Yet, that’s only part of the story.

Just like with a personal relationship, customer relationships that stay strong over the long haul take work to be successful.

Sure, it’s always possible to recover from a bad customer service incident. Yet, research shows that it’ll take twelve positive customer experiences to make up for one negative one.

Here’s the reality -- often by the time a customer has the first awful experience it’s too late to mend the relationship. Why? The relationship was on weak footing anyway.

Although you may not be able to avoid the occasional customer experience hiccup -- you can avoid having it turn into a breakup. Here’s how to make your sales stick so that your customers never dump you for another brand.

Deepen the relationship with a strong onboarding processes. The honeymoon begins the moment the purchase is made. The first sixty to ninety days are crucial. Define a process to bring new customers into your company in a way that exceeds their expectations. Send a handwritten note thanking them for their business, provide a list of who to call when they need help, offer to train them on how to best use your product or service, and invite them to customer only events where they can mingle with other happy customers. This is one of the best marketing investments you can make.

Get to know your customer. If you don’t know anything about your buyer, how can you expect them to trust you? Engage them in conversations that go beyond the buying process. Ask for their opinion on everything that’s relevant to your customer, such as how they use your product, or the direction of their industry. Find out what their favorite pastime is or where they went to college. Make recommendations based on their past purchases from you. Call several times a year just to see if you’re meeting their expectations and ask how you can help them. And, of course retain all snippets of information in an easy to search customer relationship management system. Personalizing your customer’s experience is a key differentiator and will be noticed.

Keep your promises. This seems obvious and simple enough. Yet, the everyday running of your business can get in the way. This is much more than making sure your product or service works as advertised. If you ship products, double check that the order is entered correctly, needed accessories are in the box, and delivery addresses are accurate. Or, when a customer reaches out for help and your touted fast resolution policy ends up with a slow response, people will remember. And, few things will anger a customer more than an incorrect invoice or a bill that doesn’t fully describe each line item. Make it easy for your customers to do business with you. Don’t take chances or the relationship will eventually go sour -- I promise you!

Much of the work involved in marketing and selling happens after the close. Continually reinforce the bond between you and your customers to greatly increase the likelihood that your customers will be happy with you for a long time to come. The result will be more revenue from existing customers and referrals to new customers.

Get the customer relationship off to a great start. It will make the difference between a beautiful marriage or a messy divorce.


Ron Stein is President of FastPath Marketing (www.marketing-strategies-guide.com) and the author of the Rapid Impact Marketing & Selling Playbook. As a speaker, coach, and consultant he works with small business owners helping them to accelerate the path between their vision and the actions needed to reach, win, and keep customers. Ron is the creator of the FastPath to More Customers Now! 7-step marketing system based on more than twenty years as a successful business owner, corporate CEO, business development executive, and salesman. He is also a mentor at two nationally recognized business accelerators. Ron offers one-on-one and small group mentoring, conducts seminars, and consults. He can be reached at 727-398-1855 or Ron@FastPathMarketing.com.

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