7 Steps to creating loyal customers and multiplying your revenue
We all agree that CUSTOMER is key to any successful business because without a customer, even if you have the most awesome product on earth, you will have no business at all.
I started writing this article while I was reviewing what I have been doing over the past years and, having read up on what other experts in the field say about this same issue, I came up with the follow list for myself. This is what has worked for me and I am sharing it with you. I believe the following 7 steps will help you understand how each part is as important as the other and how by following all 7 steps you can increase your revenue.
1. Greet your customers! How many times have you entered a shop, airplane, bus, or train or even phoned customer support, where you have been kept waiting and treated as a problem, rather than a customer? How has that made you feel? And how do you feel when you get the VIP treatment – the Business or First Class service? A personal greeting where you are addressed by your name. Doesn’t that make you feel special? People are happy to pay more for better treatment and this could be the first step for you to improve your revenue. Standard, VIP treatment, or across the board VIP treatment for all at a higher price. Even if you don’t use it to up your revenue, it is certainly the most important aspect of making the customer want to do business with you. Customer is King, so treat them like Kings and Queens.
2. Please your customers! If you greet your customer adequately the next part is easy. I believe it takes little to please a customer. A customer has a need and that need has a price tag. If the two are met as quoted, then you have pleased your customer. If a customer asks for a cold beer which is advertised at €2 and he is served a cold beer and charged €2, then you will have pleased your customer. For the sake of simplicity, I am assuming that it goes without saying that the task needs to be completed with good manners and also in an adequate time frame. Same goes for if you take your car for a repair. If your tyres need changing, you are quoted €1000 and they are fixed within the specified time and for the price you were quoted then surely you will be pleased and believe that was a job well done. I can give you other examples, however as you can see it is simple to please a customer, all it takes is to provide them with what they asked for at the price they were quoted.
3. Wow your customers. Regardless of your business, you can always note little details about your customers; their favourite chocolate, author, drink, sports team. Surprise them with a little detail and they will be wowed while you will be amazed. It takes little to go one step beyond pleasing them and birthday cards are old school. Think of when you take your car for a service and they return the car to you washed and cleaned. It takes very little and it costs very little. The extra drinks on the house after a meal or the odd bottle of wine on the house. Whatever your business, there is always something you can do or give away that can wow your customer.
4. Make your customers loyal. If you deliver what you have offered, for the agreed price and within the agreed timeframe, then you pretty much have a loyal customer. However, there are plenty of competitors who do just the same. In order to create loyalty you want to give them something that brings them back to you. We all have loyalty cards but I can guarantee that of all the loyalty cards you have, you have never managed to use all your points, yet you keep the cards and you try to keep it fresh in your mind so that you can use the offer. If you have greeted, pleased and wowed your customer, your customer is all ready to come back. All you need to make this happen is to give them that reason and urgency. Points that will run out or offers that end on specific dates. In fact this is the most important part for getting the best return on your investment of the cost of acquiring a new client. For every time an existing client returns, you are halving your Customer Acquisition Cost (CAC) and getting a better deal for your advertising campaign.
5. A Memorable Moment. There is still a bit more you can do for your client. I refer to this as making a memorable experience or moment. A friend once said to me “I am not a restaurant or a hotel, how can I create a memorable experience for my client?” Well, I’m in the IT industry and for me the memorable experience is when I go out of my way to help a client. Most often it happens to be support services or requirement during out-of-office hours. It is when I have gone out of my way to help a client that I’ve found it becomes a moment which they generally do not forget and appreciate.
6. Knock your customer’s socks off. I am sure that you all do the above; it is already in our nature as business owners to greet, please and make our customers loyal. Many of you also go that extra step. The finishing touch. We often forget how important that finishing touch is. If you go to a Hotel, and they throw in a bottle of champagne with some chocolates and flowers in your room. Or when you have purchased a property and your lawyer also takes care of the transfer of utility bills, sets up direct debits for town hall taxes and items that you would normally be unaware of or would take you a lot more time to do than someone who knows the ropes. It is these finishing touches that impress me and certainly impress my customers especially when it is not expected. That extra touch doesn’t really cost much, but it means a whole lot to our customers.
You probably do all of this and you might think that you have not really gained anything with all the above steps. I agree, but I still find it amazing how many businesses fail in step 1 and 2, let alone step 6 where I personally have only had a few times when they have managed to knock my socks off. But I can certainly remember the last time it happened and where. I have kept it fresh in my mind longing to go back and be their customer again.
However, the ultimate step for me is being able to anticipate every move and need of a customer. Just like Amazon keeps on suggesting what you should buy next. Just like Facebook suggests who you should become friends with next or Twitter suggests who you may want to follow next. If you want to increase your revenue, you need to be able to anticipate what your clients’ need before they do. It does not take artificial intelligence and you do not need to invest millions either.
7. Anticipate every move and need of your customers. This is actually easier than you think and it requires biological intelligence with a tiny portion of a semiconductor chip. If you have acquired the right information from your client and if you have taken the time to get to know your client, you will know much of their needs already. Now you might hold all your client information in your head and you might believe that you can share it and pass it on to each one of your new employees. However, in order to do this efficiently and effectively with a team, there really is only one way; the use of a dedicated software system that can be accessed by all team members, requiring a tad bit more than just biological intelligence.
These programs are generally referred to as a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) it is basically a customer database that can record all the necessary information about your customer, keep track of every visit, question, answer and purchase. Every enquiry, like or dislike. If you can manage to record this information, only then can you please and wow your customer, make sure they become loyal to you, knock their socks off, create a memorable experience for them and anticipate their every need.
The online CRM that we use has allowed me to first and foremost create a customer database where I hold more than just my customers’ contact details. Most importantly, the program has grown along with my business. It has made sure that all my employees know how to handle each and every client on their own merit. Some clients like to receive updates and newsletters, others don’t. Some clients like us to meet them at their office and others like to come to us, some work during the day and others at night. In short each client is unique and we treat each client based on the profile we have created for them.
This has allowed us over the years to anticipate the many needs of our clients before they would even be aware of it. This is what allows your business to sell to your client before others get the chance and before your client thinks to call someone else. We use a simple CRM package (www.pepper-crm.com). It is easy to use and has negligible cost in our business and for what it does cost, it generates 1000 times more value than we could ever imagine.
In my next article I will try to tackle how to use and get the most out of a CRM package.