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ISSN 1200-5460 - A Canadian Publication
Personal Development And Small Business Topics

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ImageStay on top of your key customers or you'll lose them. Follow up with them regularly. If you don't, you can expect that your competitors will.

How do you define "key customers"? Are all customers key? Perhaps you use a dollar amount, such as their annual purchases, or perhaps you look at their size. Don't assume that small doesn't equal key customer. Sometimes small customers have leverage. They may not know it but they do. When others see a customer leave, they see it as a sign that something is not right with your business. One customer leaving a bank can cause a run on the bank and perhaps their eventual ruin.

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The biggest turn off is indifference. Customers have to see that you care about them. Make them feel that to you, they are a key customer and that you will do what it takes to keep them as customers.

It costs more to gain new customers than it does to retain existing ones. Budget enough time and money and enthusiasm to keep up to date with your customers or it will cost you more in the long run. You get an unknown number of chances to make a bad situation good. If you have invested in goodwill with your customers in the past, you may have more chances than if you have not. But, however many chances you have, the truth is you don't know how many you have. It is like playing Russian roulette. Don't waste those chances, or it is like pulling the trigger one more time. By the time it is too late, you can see it clearly, but that is no use then.

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Find out how the customer is doing. Conduct surveys, both informal and formal. Keep a note of how long it is since the last contact. Try to understand what the customer sees as the issue. Ask what it would take to make things better, and be willing to bend the rules for your customers. If you go to bat for someone, they will be more likely to be there for you. Be willing to negotiate, and think outside the box for a solution that satisfies all involved. Absolutely, positively, don't hide behind company policies that try to protect the company at the expense of the customer.

When you have made a promise to do something, follow through with your commitments, so that the customer sees that you do. Keep going, even after you think you are done. You'll be known for going the extra mile, and also not dropping the ball when the end is in sight.

Being proactive is like the opposite of indifference. You don't wait for the customer to complain (most don't). You go out there and hunt down issues before they push a customer away.

Duncan

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