It’s impossible to have a business without customers. Many businesses find themselves able to attract customers, but keeping those customers around is a harder battle. For many businesses, following through on simple customer service aspects can make a tremendous difference in the number of customers you retain.
The first step to retaining customers is to be completely honest and upfront with them about goods and service. Clever marketing can sell anything, but if a product does not live up to customer expectations, the customer will not be back. And worse, he may even tell a few friends about his negative experience. So an overly hyped item that fails to deliver can actually lose you future customers rather than retaining the one you initially caught.
Of course, you don’t need to tell every detail and company secret, but claiming a lotion will remove every wrinkle on a woman’s face will be met with serious skepticism and virtually no repeat business – unless it really does remove every wrinkle. It is far better to make a big deal out of the cream’s ability to polish the skin and reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. A realistic, well-worded, claim is easier for customers to believe and easier for customers to accept as true.
Following closely on honesty is availability. Nobody wants to buy a product or service from someone they can’t see or contact. If you have a storefront business, this is a simple concept – you have a physical location customers can visit. If you are doing business online or over the telephone, you must reduce initial skepticism by being as available as possible. Customers don’t trust people they can’t reach whenever they want.
Contact information should be prominently displayed on every page of a website. This includes phone numbers, email addresses and a physical address. Over the phone, it is crucial to let customers know how to reach you. If you are doing business from your home, you might consider a second phone line and a post office box to keep business contact separate from home contact.
While contact is most important initially when making the sale, you must maintain contact after the sale to ensure the customer is fully satisfied. Calling to check on the customer can go a long way in satisfaction and reviews, and a help line of some sort is an absolute must. Many consumers prefer an option of a quick email (with a guaranteed response) or contacting a real person on the phone. Try to have both available.
Deliver On Promises
Every business makes promises. Failing to deliver on those promises is the number one way to run off customers. If you say shipping is free, find a way to make it free – even if you take a hit on profits. Any guarantee must be backed up with performance, whether it is your performance or that of your product.
Finally, to bring customers back, you must exceed their expectations. Meeting expectations is fine, but to exceed them makes your company memorable. Even if five other vendors sell an identical product, you can still set your company apart. Promise delivery in five days and get the item there in three. Send along a little something extra for good will with the purchased item. Have a customer service representative call past clients to offer a special rate or offer as thanks for their business. Impress a customer, and he will be back. He might even bring a few friends with him.