by Tom Hopkins
The average business loses 15% of their clients on an annual basis. It’s safe to assume that some clients move away or sadly, pass away. If you sell to businesses, some of them may close. But, many simply stop using your services or shopping with you. That’s because you haven’t established sound relationships with them. The clients feel no loyalty…no obligation to return.
With the cost of gaining new business five times that of keeping current clients, it’s wise to do all you can to keep those people coming back for more. In order to thrive in business, it’s important to make each client feel important. If they have a negative feeling or are even indifferent to your business, they won’t feel obligated to continue to do business with you.
You start by being grateful for their business. Make good eye contact with clients and say the words, “Thank you for your business,” at least once during every contact.
Variations might include:
- “We appreciate your business.”
- “Your business is important to us.”
Focus on saying those words so often that they come out by reflex. And, don’t forget to smile when you say them!
Follow up every transaction with a thank you note. This may sound old-fashioned, but it really works to make them feel important. How many thank you notes do you receive from people you do business with? I’m sure it’s not many. Believe me: people remember those who do send them.
Schedule a follow up phone call within a few days of every service or contact. Ask your clients if they’re still satisfied with the information or service you provided. Even if you have to leave this in voice mail, that’s okay. You’ve made the contact. These calls shouldn’t take more than a minute or two per client even if you do reach them in person.
If they have a challenge, of course, you’ll need to allow time to address it. But it’s worth it to get something resolved rather than let it fester with them.When clients do have a challenge with your product or service, listen carefully to what they say. Make notes of the conversation and assure them that you want to get things resolved. Even if you can’t resolve it right away, knowing that you listened to them and are making an effort will go a long way toward giving them a positive, loyalty-building experience.
If your product or service is something the client should schedule periodically, put a reminder program in place. Send post cards, emails or make quick phone calls to get them set up for their next service. This is viewed by clients as a courtesy, not an intrusion.If you offer add-on services or have added a new feature or option to your service, contact them about that as well.
Start with, “Mr. Johnson, we so appreciate your past patronage and think you might benefit from…” State the benefit your add-on service or new product will bring them and ask what they think about it rather than pushing to sell it to them. Their feedback will tell you whether or not it’s right for them and whether or not now is the time to consider it. If this isn’t a good time, schedule a repeat contact with them when it is convenient for them.
Building client loyalty is all about providing service…whether it’s the product itself or your time in considering their needs doesn’t matter. What does matter is that keeping them loyal requires making them feel important.
Tom Hopkins International Inc