5 Tips to Convert a First Time Customer into a Lifetime Customer
Congratulations! You have sold your product (or service) to a new customer. It’s a great feeling! Then you say something like “Thank you, let me know if there is anything else I can help you with in the future.” Basically, right there, without realizing it, you killed it, and not in a good way. You see, the translation to what you just said is really, “I got my sale, I’m done at my end, and if you want anything else then you’ll have to contact me. I’m not going to put any additional effort into you because I came for the sale and I already got it.” That may not be your intention, but that’s how it may have come across.
In reality, it doesn’t even matter if you got the sale just now. You might be scratching your head over this statement, but it’s true. If you are sincere in wanting a forever customer then you need to build a relationship. That’s the key. Most times they can get the product or service from someone else so why should they do business with you?
Build a Relationship.
A potential customer wants to see that you are interested in them, not as a paycheck, but as someone who wishes to serve them, to help, direct, educate, to build a customer for life. They want to know that you’re in their corner. If you are sincere is wanting to be in their corner than that brings us to the next step, listening.
Ask Open-Ended Questions and Listen to the Answers.
Find out about them. The more information they share, the more you can see how your product or service can help them now or in the future. Note: Keep a journal and jot down info on them so you can bring it up in the future. And remember, you might be doing something totally different in the future, and they may too. So, I hope you see that a relationship is more important than one sale. If it is, then that brings us to the next step, finding out how they want you to connect.
How does your potential customer like to be addressed? How do they like to share communication? By phone? Email? Text? There’s nothing more irritating to a potential customer than communicating to someone that you don’t want to communicate via phone and would prefer email and they keep calling you, over and over again. Is this person really connected to their potential customer’s needs? Absolutely not.
Your New Product or Service to Their Needs
. Always inform your customer if there is something new or something on sale that you feel would be of interest to them. Let them hear your enthusiasm, and explain to her/him that you wanted to share this new product/service because “you remembered how fill in the blank was so important to them. Take the time to explain how it may meet their needs. As you grow this relationship, remember to note how their needs have changed; don’t be afraid to ask them why they’ve changed. Did they get married? Start a new business venture? Downsize or have kids?
New Life Event? Special Occasion?
Remember special occasions and send a card, call or in some cases, send a little gift. Maybe they just had a child, or it’s their company’s anniversary or they just returned from a fabulous vacation. Reaching out to them reminds them of your sincerity to be there for them when needed. My husband and I have a realtor friend and he sends a calendar with his name and phone number on it to us at the end of each year. He calls us twice a year just to check in, remind us that he’s there for us and asks if we have any questions about the market. I say realtor “friend” even though he’s not a social friend. We view him as such though because he builds relationships and we know whether we buy or sell a house soon, he is there to help us with any questions. He’s a great example of creating a customer for life. Without a doubt, we will be calling him if and when we decide to sell and would feel very comfortable recommending him to our friends and associates.
Where ever you or your customer may go in life, there’s always an opportunity to take them with you.
By Karen Orem
Spring (Fall) Cleaning Your Business
Giving your business a solid sweep doesn’t need to wait until spring. At least once, maybe twice a year, give your company an overall look to make sure your business is running at optimal levels. There are always the basics that you can look at cleaning up; checking on your Internet and electricity bills for example to check for better prices are a good idea once a year. But here are some places you might not be cleaning up that could use a nice autumn clean.
Growing your email subscriptions can be work, so give yourself a big pat on the back for growing your subscriptions! Now that you’ve grown that email list, when’s the last time you’ve worked on client loyalty through your lists? This month, try offering deals and specials through your email newsletters that make your clients WANT to open your email. If you usually suggest products or services in your email campaigns, go back through and evaluate which were successful suggestions for your clients. Double check all your links to make sure you’re sending clean links; find the dead links before your client finds them. When checking links, remember to go through your website and ensure that all your sub links are working as well.
As a business owner, you’re constantly on the go; remember your clients are moving too. When’s the last time you checked on the accuracy of your client information? Do they have the same email address? Phone number? Address? Connect with your clients to ensure you have the most recent and up-to-date information. If you haven’t heard from your client in awhile, this check up is a great way to touch base and even reconnect. While reconnecting with your clients and updating contact information, you can also run a customer satisfaction email. Find out how you can make your customers happier. While looking over your client lists, really consider each of your clients. Who are your biggest spenders or most loyal clients? Which clients are the most expensive to maintain and perhaps not the easiest to work with? Cleaning out some of the clients that aren’t your strongest will help you better maintain those clients that will help you continue to build a better business. Once you see which clients are your strongest, consider what these clients have in common. Which services are they using? Use this cross information to help you decide what you need to work on as a company moving forward.
Take the time to speak with your employees. As the individuals who are working daily with your clients, or working behind the scenes for your business, they may have great ideas for things that may help your business grow or work more efficiently. Remember to give your employees a safe place to speak openly for honest suggestions. Compare your prices to your competitors. How do you match up? Another important aspect of your company is your B2B connections and other business partners. Take time to connect with your vendors, suppliers, and other business partners to make sure you’re up-to-date with all the new information they have to offer. Are you getting the best prices? Are you ordering the best materials for your company? Are there any options to work together to better build your business that you haven’t looked at recently? Talk to your business partners and investors to make sure not only everyone is happy, but see if anyone has suggestions or advice that will help you as you continue to build a more profitable business.
Obviously, there’s always more that can be done when you’re running a business. But by taking time to really evaluate your business plans, orders, and communication, you can ensure you’re continuing to build your business on a solid foundation. Even if you can’t do everything, start with a few small things. So don’t wait for spring to do your cleaning, take time now to sweep up!
Employee Retention – How to Keep Your Top Performers
Chances are that you know or have seen people that are self-driven. They work well with others and they excel at their job. They’re not clock watchers, they want to excel at everything they do, and they always strive to exceed expectations. Due to their reputation of striving for excellence, they have created an extensive network of cross-connecting with like-minded people and businesses, and their networks continue to grow in size and quality. They’re the ones that everyone wants, and recruiters (or “headhunters”) can’t wait to connect with them. When you have outstanding employees of this magnitude, there is always the concern of losing them, especially to competitors. So the question remains, how do I keep my top performers? In order to delve into this subject matter further, you must first be aware that your perspective of whom your top performers are might be quite different than someone else’s opinion. So, be prepared to back-up your opinion with facts, and be able to express them in a private and/or group setting, and in written form. Remember, you being able to identify top performers can also make you a valuable asset, and yes, a top performer.
Identifying Your Top Performers.
In order to identify your top performers, you must first be engaged with your staff, and spending time finding what they feel is working well, their concerns, and positive/negative feedback. They need to feel connected to you and to the company’s purpose (or vision) in order for them to feel comfortable opening up and sharing. So, build those relationships with your staff and you will build more trust. After striving for more open communication, you may find out amazing things. There are instances where managers assume that one employee was responsible for a great idea, problem-solving a customer service issue, or coming up with huge solution to an existing problem, only to find out that someone took credit where credit wasn’t due. You will also get a better indication of how people within your business react with one another. Who is spreading negativity, who is spreading gossip? More importantly, who works well in a team environment? So, first and foremost, create and nurture those relationships. Remember, communication is key.
Now that you know who your top performers are, you can better address ways to retain them. In order to address this challenge, let’s flip it over and look at this from the top performer’s perspective:
What are their needs?
People are driven by many different motives and what you may assume drives them, may not be it at all. This is where you need to start digging. Make sure you’re having informal conversations with these performers; get to know how they tick. At times, you may want to take them out to lunch, have some one-on-one time with them, and find out what it is that they really want. Do they enjoy working with the business? Why or why not? Figure out what additional training may be beneficial to them and to your company. Are they looking at your company as potential for long-term growth? What are their short-term and long-term goals? If not, when you identify what it is that they want, you can better guide them on this path within your organization. What would motivate them to want to stay longer? Are they open to continuing education? Would your company reimburse for approved courses. As they receive more expertise, they should be able to use it in their current job, and/or along their stated career path within your company. What’s the best part of their job? Their worst? Share a little about yourself and ask them to share a little about them. Find out what do they like to do for fun? When you are asking and sharing, you can find out what their “whys” are and understand its importance to them. Share the good qualities that you see in them.
Do your business needs and their needs match up?
No one can see into the future, but it’s important that your outstanding employees see that they are being groomed for better things. They may not remain if there isn’t a clear path to greater opportunities. So, what are you making available to them? We’ve already discussed extra training, and now is a great time to expose them to the next level of work, to get the flavor of it. You can see how they are responding to this and they are assessing if this is, in fact what they really want too. Continue to keep their goals in front of you both and keep the lines of communication open.
Be a visionary.
Paint a vision of where you see them in one year and in five years. Remind them of the opportunities in your company and connect it to their vision.
Perks. Who doesn’t like perks? A gift card for two to a special dinner, a couple of tickets to their favorite sports team game, an afternoon off so they can go see a play their child is performing in. Raises may or may not be available but potential bonuses might be. Explore different areas and gear them toward their unique perspective.
Name Recognition. When they do something great, make sure you bring it up in the next meeting when appropriate. Introduce them to higher ups in the company so interaction naturally happens. Invite them to your LinkedIn. And, what a great time to ask them if they know of anyone else that might be interested in the company. Top performers know other top performers.
At the end of the day, the more an employee sees that you know who they are, appreciate what they do, open up opportunities and connections for them, and paint the same vision, the more chance you’ll have of retaining those top performers.
Tricks to Give Your Business a More Personal Touch
According to a recent Gallup poll, customer engagement is more critical today because consumers prefer to have an emotional connection to a businesses. Fully engaged customers are emotionally bonded and loyal to the company. On the other hand, actively disengaged customers easily switch between products or services. For example, fully engaged bank customers add up to 40 percent more annual revenue, compared with disengaged customers. Below explains three ways to personalize your customer’s experience with your business.
Surprise your customers by actively engaging them through genuine interactions. Set the standard that employees address customers by name and require that all employees wear name tags or state their name at the beginning of an interaction. Most customers appreciate not being treated like just another face or account number. Encourage employees to engage customers in polite conversation while focusing on meeting their needs. Whenever a customer has a problem, instruct employees to actively listen and problem solve at the lowest possible level. Employees should not simply transfer the phone or pass the problem along to someone else. If the problem is more complex, a timely follow up is critical, even if there is no immediate solution available.
Many businesses want to adjust their business practices to meet their customers’ needs, but are unsure how to go about doing this. Improving the customer experience begins with properly documenting and responding to customer comments and complaints. Hard data and numbers work best when it comes to improving the overall customer experience. Consider formally surveying customers through email, phone, or in-person surveys. Monitor social media sites for postings that shed light on improvement opportunities. Cloud-based platforms that customers can access, such as healthcare communication systems like Solutionreach Patient Engagement, offer Patient Reminder Software and allow customers to easily connect to the company more personally.
Improve the Customer Service Experience
According to Forbes, certain industries are better suited to excel at customer service, such as the real estate and healthcare industries. However, retail and social media are at the bottom of the list. According to Forbes, the key to a satisfying customer service experience is through personal relationships and ample self-service resources. Every customer service interaction should begin and end on a positive note. As mentioned above, genuine and helpful customer service interactions will resolve most problems. On the other hand, many savvy customers can take care of their own problems, but often lack the means to do it. Be sure that your website and social media sites offer right resources, such as FAQs and Forums, so customers can answer their own questions as well.
To recap, businesses today can offer a more personal experienced through genuine engagement, eliciting feedback, and improving the customer service experience. Businesses that offer a personalized experience will increase the number of fully engaged, loyal customers and increase their revenue as a result.
“Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking and gardening. For more information contact Brooke via Twitter @BrookeChaplan.”
5 Helpful Twitter Users Your Business Should Follow
Vanessa O’Connell: @VanessaOConnell
Vanessa is a journalist at Wall Street Journal; that should be reason enough to be interested in following her Twitter feed, but there’s a lot more to tell. She is the entrepreneurship editor for WSJ, the creator of “The Accelerators” (a blog dedicated to start-ups), and was part of the small team of journal editors who launched the “Wall Street Journal Startup of the Year”. She coauthored the nonfiction book Wheelmen about Lance Armstrong, and lastly is a monitor for the WSJ panel “How I Built It” featuring well-known American entrepreneurs.
Rick Wartzman: @RWartzman
Rick Wartzman is a must follow. He is a contributor to @FortuneMagazine writing a colum titled Work 3.0, and he is the author of “The King of California” and “Obscene to the Extreme.” He is currently the Executive Director of Drucker Institute–Strengthening organizations to strengthen society. Rick’s Twitter feed is funny, honest, and full of helpful information for business owners.
Jeff Hoffman: @SpeakerJeff
Jeff is considered a business expert and has been on Fox News, CNN International, Bloomberg News, ABC and in publications including Forbes, Inc, Time, Fast Company, Wall Street Journal and many more. He has been the CEO and senior executive of many well-known startups, including Priceline.com. He serves on many charity and nonprofit boards, travels often as a keynote speaker at entrepreneurial and business leadership conventions. But there’s also the simple fact that his Twitter feed is probably the most lighthearted listed here. One of his most recent tweets is of him holding hands with the Dalai Llama in New York as he judged the Tibetan Innovation Challenge.
Rakia Reynolds: @RakiaReynolds
Rakia is the Twitter account you can’t miss. Her feed is personal, successful, and imaginative. While we’re talking about social feed, we’re also going to throw in that you’re missing out if you’re not also following her on Instagram. Rakia is the owner of SkaiBlue Media, a marketing agency for lifestyle, technology, and non-profit brands. Rakia is a very successful small business owner, and she’s worth a follow if you’re looking for more upbeat success stories in your feed.
Howard Lewinter: @HowardLewinter
CEO’s, Presidents, and business owners have called on Howard for over 25 years. He gives advice on business survival, stability, and profit turnaround. Howard’s motto on his Linkedin profile states, “If you’d like more success – more profit – less stress, then let’s talk.” He also hosts his own radio show called “Talk Business With Howard.” He has also been a contributing writer for the Linkedin Business and Selling Fearlessly blog. His Twitter feed has personal and motivational quotes, and many useful links to articles pertaining to running a successful business.