8 WAYS OF INCREASING THE NUMBER OF YEARS CUSTOMERS DO BUSINESS WITH YOU

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You may ask then if 90% of business can come from referrals alone, why do all the other expensive stuff – like buying advertising, or using direct mail.  Well, the problem is referrals are often a by-product of all other methods of marketing. You need new customers to recommend and make referrals.  So definitely don’t stop doing everything else.  On the other hand, if you’re not working very hard to cultivate referrals, you’re simply losing tons of business, and you may be making all those other things you do weaker, and maybe even beside the point.

1) EXCEL AT CUSTOMER SERVICE

WE come back to this over and over again, and excellent customer service is hardly a new concept, but that’s not the point. The point is the measure of how well you get the job done. Excellent customer service doesn’t just happen. It starts with your mission statement. From there it becomes a policy and a very specific set of procedures. What exactly must each of your employees do in the face of each and every customer to make sure “excellent customer service” really happens? It’s more than a concept, more than a catch phrase – delivering real, quality customer service is something you need to think about deeply, plan for carefully, train your employees to achieve, and measure results.

Quick Tips and Action Points:

1) Don’t try to recreate the wheel. Study the science of customer service. Examine an organization that knows how to do it, and emulate them.

2) Each employee must be involved, no matter how lowly or humble. Customer service is teamwork.

 

2) IMPLEMENT A CUSTOMER REACTIVATION PROGRAM

Customers leave or go away for a variety of reasons. They become inactive. It pays to try to get them back. Do this by developing a customer reactivation program. One of the best ways is to send letters with headlines like, “We Want You Back!” or “Wanted: Reward for Missing Customer.” Then the text of the letter should ask for the customer to return, offer rewards and benefits for doing so. Systemize the process and do it on an ongoing basis.  BT are current masters of this technique.

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Quick Tips and Action Points:

1) Tell them how you have improved, changed or about new development in products or services since they were away.

2) Clean your list often so you don’t waste time on customers that are never coming back because they may no longer be among the living.

3) Introduce new people on your staff, and tell inactive customers what they bring or add to your business.

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3) USE SERVICE CONTRACTS

A service contract accomplishes two things that are both good for your business. One, you can charge for them, and you make money. Second, it keeps a customer tied to you. If they know you’ll service what you sold them, they’ll stick with you – if you do excellent work, and honor all terms of the contract. Also, you’ll be in a better position to know when service is not enough, and it’s time for a new purchase. At that time, you can offer incentives for your customer to “re-signup” with you – and also extend their service contract, for a fee.

Quick Tips and Action Points:

1) Offer different levels of service, based on time, or other criteria.

2) Use service calls as an opportunity to make a new sale.

4) TILL FURTHER NOTICE ARRANGEMENT

Arrange to deliver your product to your customer automatically, and on an ongoing basis, until they tell you to stop, or until further notice. A well known premium coffee supplier has been running this kind of deal successfully and with stunning profits for almost two decades. It offers a free coffee maker to induce initial sign up. The coffee keeps coming by the month, conveniently delivered to the customer’s post box. They don’t have to go to the store to get coffee. The coffee maker keeps sending coffee as long as the customer keeps paying or signs off, which they don’t do often.

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Quick Tips and Action Points:

1) The free upfront offer is the hook and the key to luring people into the arrangement.

2) Works best for items that are used regularly, and which have an addictive quality, like caffeine

3) Captured customers are prime candidates for cross-selling or up-selling additional products.

4) Monitor customer satisfaction, issue occasional surveys or “quality checks,” and capture further customer information.

5) AFTER PURCHASE AFFIRMATION

Another smart idea is to reinforce the customer’s feelings about their purchase. Tell them they are a smart shopper, got a great deal, and that they have great taste. Tell why they are lucky to have what they bought. People need to know they have made the right decision, especially after the purchase of a big-ticket item.

Quick Tips and Action Points:

1) Cut out and send favorable media articles about the purchase and send them to the buyer.

2) Show them how to get the best use from the product to increase their satisfaction with it.

This all lays the down the psychology that induces repeat purchases.

6) KEEP THE DIRECT MAIL COMING

It’s still the easiest way to keep in contact with customers, and to keep them in the mode of coming back. Well-written, periodic mailings in multiple formats, each taking a unique selling angle or proposition are excellent. You can also send post cards, letters, brochures, special reports, and newsletters.

Quick Tips and Action Points:

1) Takes considerable effort to produce lots of varieties of written direct mail pieces.

2) Carefully test results. You must discover which mailings work best, and which seem to be a waste of time.

3) Use computerized, automated systems where you can to make the task easy and automatic.

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7) FOLLOW-UP

Again, the simple idea’s almost always work. Call on the pretext of monitoring customer satisfaction with your product. Let them know you care deeply about how well they’re getting along with their purchase. Listen carefully to what they say – any complaints are a golden opportunity to improve. Best of all, you stay in the customer’s mind and keep them interacting with you, and increase chances they’ll come back.

8) FREE TRIAL OFFERS

Half the battle of getting customer’s to buy is getting them to understand how great your product is and how much they’ll like it if they’ll only try it. Letting them try it free is a “can’t resist” offer. If your product is good, it may sell itself, but don’t count on this. Include selling information with the free sample – explain and list the benefits. Free trials also generate more takers, and breaks down resistance to confronting or considering the product.

Quick Tips and Action Points:

1) You may want to limit free trials to proven, best repeat customer. It’s also a way of showing your appreciation for their continued business, and make sure to tell them you’re rewarding them with this freebie.

2) When it’s time to give the product back, work hard not to take it back. Offer an incentive for them to keep and pay for it instead.

3) Works great with food. That’s why grocery stores put all those things on a cocktail stick.

How important is this? Well a recent survey showed that for many businesses, 90% of all their business comes from referrals.  That’s an amazing figure – 90% of all business comes from referrals.

Now this may work better for a service oriented businesses, but it is almost as important for all others.

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