How to keep your best customers happy

A solid base of current customers will allow you to plan ahead with confidence.

When the economy’s looking a bit dodgy, it’s a good time to strengthen your customer relationships. A solid base of current customers contributing to a predictable cash flow will allow you to plan ahead with confidence.

It’s also less expensive to keep existing customers than it is to attract new ones. While every business needs some fresh customers, it’s a costlier form of business building because you don’t yet have a relationship with non-customers.

Help your customers save money

When your customers hurt, so do you – open dialogues with customers about their own financial outlooks for the coming year.

You may discover they’re planning a review of all supplier accounts in an effort to cut costs. Be proactive by offering to review their accounts now to explore possible savings or efficiencies.

For example, financial institutions routinely contact customers to review their accounts. A bank can suggest small adjustments to existing services to help save customers a few dollars. The result will be that:

  • The customers are delighted because the supplier is working to save them money.
  • The supplier is content because the customer stays loyal.

Always ask first

Ask what’s important to your customers before you offer to reduce your prices. They may care more about non-price elements of your relationship such as:

  • Payment terms.
  • Late fees.
  • Delivery arrangements.

You might find out that your customer is seeking an additional solution, which you can supply. A supplier who listens to their customers gets to keep them.

Exceed expectations

In today’s highly competitive, global marketplace, it’s not enough to simply ‘satisfy’ your customers. You’ve got to strive to go above and beyond. Look to ‘wow’ your customers – consider these examples:

  • Outperform – if your customer’s expecting an order by Friday, deliver it by Wednesday.
  • Give more – add unexpected value to whatever you’re selling. For example, an accountant could offer free business coaching seminars to his clients.
  • Do their work for them – make it ridiculously easy for your customer to enjoy whatever your business supplies. Does your product require assembly? Create an online video tutorial.

Get customers for your customers

It’s an easy connection to make – your business will succeed when your customers succeed.

Look beyond your customers to learn as much as you can about their customers. Show an interest in the way they market and sell. Deepen your understanding of the way your customers use your product or service to build business.

Make recommendations

Equipped with this knowledge, you’ll be able to make recommendations to help your customers attract more business. Or, you might identify something you can do to modify your product or service in a way that advances your customers marketing and sales efforts.

For example, a website developer might suggest adding a feature that allows customers to easily integrate social media into their products.

Become an ambassador for your customers

Talk about them. Post links on your website, Facebook page or LinkedIn profile. Share updates and information about your customers to your suppliers, colleagues and other customers. Do whatever you can to drum up business for your existing customers.

Your aim should be to keep your existing customers for life.

Next steps