Many small businesses make the common mistake of worrying so much about finding new customers that they neglect the ones they already have. But your existing customers are your most important source of business. Not only do they keep coming back to your business, but they spread the word to new customers and prospects. So how can you provide customer service that keeps existing customers happy? Try these ideas.
- Keep in touch. Regularly follow up with existing customers to let them know what new products and services you have to offer, as well as to see what more they need from you. Depending on your type of business and your customer base, you could follow up via email newsletters, personalized emails, social media outreach or by making phone calls or sending letters or direct mail.
- Point out what you do for them. If your business goes above and beyond to make customers’ lives easier, that’s great. The problem is, they may get so used to it that they stop noticing. Remind them every once in a while (subtly, of course). For instance, if you own an insurance agency, you could call or email to tell them, “I’ve reviewed your coverage and I have found some ways we can save you money. Would you like to set up a time to discuss this?”
- Automate reminders. Setting up a system that reminds customers when it’s time to buy from you again is a great tactic that not only provides streamlined service for them, but keeps them loyal to you. For instance, if you sell a product that customers regularly need to replenish (like toner cartridge), send email reminders when their supplies might be running low, along with a quick link they can use to reorder. If you sell a service (such as HVAC installation and repair), send a reminder when it’s time for an annual servicing.
- Get personal. Email and online communications are great, but be aware of how customers want to hear from you. If your business depends on in-person selling, customers may prefer to get an actual phone call or office visit. Seniors and others who are less comfortable with digital interactions may want to get direct mail or phone calls. These are all ways to create a personal touch.
- Share useful information. It’s easier than ever to pass on interesting articles, industry news or useful information that will help your customers save money, learn something new or do something better. You can post or link to articles on social media, post useful tips of your own or email information directly to specific customers. They’ll know you’re thinking of them and how to serve them better.
- Don’t rest on your laurels. Always ask what more you can be doing for existing customers. Set up regular meetings to check in and probe for new needs that have arisen. Ask about what’s new in their business or their lives, and you’ll spot new ways you can help them (and sell to them).
With a little thought, creativity and follow-through, you’ll be able to keep your existing customers coming back again and again.
Image by Flickr user Joe Shlabotnik (Creative Commons)