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How To Create Loyal Customers And Raving Fans

Recently I was on holiday with my family in Sri Lanka.

 

To make life easy we had a guy who drove us around, sorted out any issues and generally enabled us to relax and enjoy ourselves.

 

Now we’ve had this kind of guy before and it’s just luck as to whether you get someone nice who wants to help you to have a good time or someone who doesn’t really give a monkey’s who’s just going through the motions.

Customer Loyalty

Our guy, his name was Ananda, was exceptional.

 

He always had a smile, he was incredibly knowledgeable on all things Sri Lankan, he was always punctual, his driving was careful and safe but more importantly than anything, he made us feel that he really cared.

 

We joked that our youngest daughter wanted to be adopted by him.

 

The point I’m making is that we were his customers and he made us feel special.

 

The result was that we gave him a glowing testimonial and a whacking great tip but if it was a different kind of business, we would become loyal customers and go back to him like a shot.

 

We would be raving fans and would refer other people to his business all day long and in that one sentence, I think I’ve distilled what it takes to have a successful business.

customer testimonials

If you can turn your customers into raving fans who will happily refer others to your business, you’ve basically cracked it.

 

So the question is what can you do in your business to make your customers feel special in the way that Ananda did for us?

 

There are plenty of tried and tested ways to increase your customer loyalty:

  • Promotions and special offers on products your customers buy
  • Newsletters to keep your customers updated on developments in the industry and everything to do with your business
  • Special customer receptions and events
  • Loyalty schemes rewarding customers for their business

 

Now all of these are proven ways to increase business from existing customers but what Ananda did was much more personal and to get to that level requires a much greater input from yourself and crucially requires customer data.

Marketing segmentation

Once you have detailed information about your customers you can start to really personalise your marketing:

  • Birthday cards are a good place to start
  • Activity around anniversaries or spouse’s birthdays take it to another level
  • Offers targeted towards kids
  • Information and offers focused on their interests and hobbies
  • Geographically tailored deals around where they live or where the business is based

 

As these are all bespoke offers, focussed on the customer’s specific circumstances they feel much more personal and so take the relationship to another level.

 

This is the way to convert customers into raving fans and ensure the success of your business.

 

If you need help to develop your customer relationships, I can aid you through methods such as email marketing and blogging. Simply get in touch on mikejennings@marketingsurrey.co.uk, or call me on 01483 200387 and I’ll be happy to help.

 

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How To Retain Your Customers

When people think of marketing, they invariably think of generating new customers and while all businesses need new customers, it makes much more sense in the first instance to know how to retain your customers.

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You may know that it costs 5 times as much to generate a new customer as to retain your customers so once you have a customer you should hold onto them for dear life.

The problem is that too many businesses take their existing customers for granted. They’ve done the hard work and won them as a customer – job done. They now milk them for as long as possible while moving their focus onto the next new opportunity.

I received a piece of direct mail the other week from a furniture retailer and on the outside of the envelope it said “10% off your first order*” and underneath it said * Applies to new customers only.

It actually made me laugh.

How can a business be so crass.

How would you feel as an existing customer especially if there was something I wanted to buy but knew that new customers could buy it 10% cheaper?

I assume the mailing didn’t go to existing customers, but judging by how stupid the marketing was, I wouldn’t be totally confident that it didn’t.

Reward loyalty

Instead of penalising existing customers, savvy businesses will reward them. This can take different forms.

  1. Identify what customers have bought and give them a discount off related items.
  2. Offer them a benefit on an upgrade on their normal purchase
  3. Launch a loyalty scheme
    The standard format is to offer points for purchasing that provide discounts off future purchases. Not only does this tie customers in to your business and make them feel good but it can also provide you with valuable purchasing data. The ultimate example of this is Tesco, who via their Club Card have massive amounts of data about their customer’s purchasing habits which they’ve exploited ruthlessly over the years.

Listen to your customers

Customer service is one of the key differentiators which keeps customers coming back to your business.

If you want to know what customers are looking for, the best way to find out is to ask them and the best way to ask them is via a survey.

These days companies like Survey Monkey make it dead easy to send out surveys.

The key thing is to act on the survey information you get back. Sometimes you may not like what you hear, but if that is what your customers are saying, you ignore them at your peril.

The other point is that surveys can show you issues that specific customers are unhappy with. This gives you the opportunity to deal with the issue immediately and head off the problem before the customer votes with their feet. Write to them or even better phone them up and take action to give them what they want.

Keep in contact

Over 80% of customers who change suppliers do so not because something terrible has happened but because they don’t feel loved.

One way to make them feel loved is by staying in regular touch and adding value by providing useful information, special offers, product updates etc.

One of the best ways to do this is via a newsletter and ideally a printed newsletter.

Now while that may sound a bit old school to you, I only recommend it because it works.

Newsletters have to be filled with interesting information, have plenty of pictures, not be entirely focused on selling the company and even have a few jokes and competitions. In short they need to be visually attractive and easy to read.

Keeping in contact via newsletters, emails etc tells your customers that you’re interested in them and you’re keen to maintain close relationships with them.

If you take these points on board, your customer retention should be very good, which will mean your business will be able to grow instead of struggling to stand still.

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Are You Committing This Hideous Sin?

When most people think about growing their business, they immediately think about how they can acquire new customers.

Now of course new customers are vital to the long term health of your business but in fact the real money lies in your existing customers.

Focusing too much on winning new customers is a huge mistake.

You see while the un-rich believe the most important marketing is in attracting new customers, the exceptionally successful and rich business owner realises marketing to and nurturing their  existing customers  is paramount.

So why is this so important?

  1. It’s becoming more and more expensive to acquire new customers.
    It used to be that when acquiring a new customer, you could make a profit or at least break even. It’s estimated that winning a new customer costs five times as much as keeping an existing one.  Plus the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60-70% while the probability of selling to a new prospect is only 5-20%.
  2. The majority of customers leave businesses because of neglect.
    There are lots of reasons that we all lose customers and sometimes we screw up and genuinely deserve to lose a customer.
    But the biggest reason for customers leaving is that they feel unappreciated, unimportant, or taken for granted. Something over 70% of customers leave their existing supplier for this reason. If you feel that your existing supplier isn’t concerned about you, when someone else whispers in your ear and offers you a better deal, you have no qualms about moving your business elsewhere.

It stands to reason that if you strategically engineer your business to retain, nurture and grow the value of your existing customers, you will grow your business and your profits.

How do you do this?

Make your customer feel important and valued

Find ways to express your gratitude by acknowledging them and thanking them in your newsletters, by creating a reward program and making special offers specifically for existing customers.. Also, treat them as the valued and valuable commodity they are. Invest time in them and make them feel that their business is important to you.

View retention as a marketing function and a profit center

Don’t think of money spent on existing customers as an expense. Instead view it as an investment.

Have a lost customer plan in place. 

Track your customer’s activity. When one goes missing, send that customer a letter with a great offer or pick up the phone to find out what’s going on. You need to be persistent. Losing customers will be very damaging to your business.

Develop new products and services for your existing customers. 

Your existing customers may have moved beyond your initial offering. Work hard to do more business with them by coming up with new offerings that will appeal to their wants, needs and desires.

Your existing customers are your most important asset. If you want to grow your business and profits, neglecting them is one marketing sin you don’t want to commit.

 

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Unlocking the Value of your Customers

We all want to build a loyal customer base. It takes the pressure off customer acquisition and is far more rewarding and enjoyable than continually chasing new customers.

It also allows us to relax a bit knowing that we have a healthy pipeline in place.

However lots of businesses focus on new customers at the expense of nurturing their existing customers. Not only is this hard work but it’s also bad business as you risk disappointing your existing customers with the result that they may leave and even potentially share their negative opinions with others along the way.

So the question is how can you generate greater loyalty within your customer base and how you can maximise their value.

Getting the basics right
When we buy something there are usually a number of essential outcomes we want from the experience:

  • The right quality
  • The transaction to be completed efficiently without any undue delays.
  • To be kept informed during the process so we know exactly where we are.
  • To agree an appropriate price and for that price to remain fixed.

It’s amazing how many businesses fall down on these basic elements. You just have to look at the rants on the forums and social media to see that most complaints are down to one of these issues. Too often businesses make promises that they’re never going to be able to keep in order to secure the order. While they may get the initial order, there’s very little chance of them getting further work.

Make it personal
The more tailored and relevant your product/service feels to a customer and their situation, the more loyal they’ll become.

We like buying from people who understand us and know our tastes. To do this you need to have detailed knowledge of your customers. Consider what they buy from you, why they buy it, when they buy it and also what they don’t buy from you but could.

Reward their loyalty
If you could incentivise your customers to stay loyal and bring new ones to you, just think you much you could save from your marketing costs and efforts.

So you should think about what rewards you could afford to offer. The key issue you have to calculate is what is the cost of the reward against the increase in profit that is generated.

Depending on your customers and your budget, there are different reward options you can consider such as:

  • A loyalty discount or bonus
  • A VIP service
  • Regular updates on special offers etc
  • A free gift
  • A freeze on your prices offering this year’s prices next year
  • Giving them an upgrade for the same price
  • Giving them discount on new products

Whatever you choose you must make sure that it is of a high enough perceived value that it generates the increased loyalty you’re looking for.

At the end of the day, your objective is to is to build close relationships with your customers and delight them at every stage. If you manage to achieve this, they will stay loyal and become raving fans of your business and refer new customers to you.

 

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Keep Your Customers Loyal Instead Of Having To Continuously Win New Ones

Winning new customers is hard work.

New customers have to go through the process of deciding whether they believe you are the best supplier, whether your price is right and vitally whether they like you enough to do business with you.

So it makes perfect commercial sense to do everything possible to keep your customers loyal. Bizarrely lots of small businesses tend to forget that retaining customers is just as important as winning new ones.

Keeping your customers loyal also doesn’t have to be expensive. Often very small things can make all the difference.

The following tips should go a long way to making sure your customers reciprocate your love and stay with your business.

Stay in touch

It’s estimated that over 80% of customers who change supplier do so not because they are unhappy with the service but because they don’t feel loved.

It’s so easy to avoid this. You just need to talk to your customers regularly. Keep them informed of any news and developments at your company, any special offers and any way you can help them.

Send them things you see in the press that relate to their area of business, retweet their tweets, like items on their Facebook page. Just go out of your way to have regular contact and demonstrate your commitment to them.

Get to know your customer base

Get to know who are your most profitable customers and those that you think have the highest propensity to re-purchase. Make sure you understand them and why they have chosen to do business with you, so you can give them more of the stuff they come to you for in the first place.

Show them you care

If you can move the relationship from the purely professional to a more social, friendly basis not only will your working life become more enjoyable but it will tie your customers into you. A small token of your gratitude for their business at Christmas and acknowledgement of their birthday, while admittedly not original, will certainly not go unnoticed.
How much you spend and whether you decide to take them out to lunch or dinner is up to you and how much you’ve developed the relationship.

Give them your best offers

So many businesses use discounts or attractive offers to get you ‘hooked’ and then once you become a loyal customer suddenly the offers seem to disappear.
This is really short sighted.
Your loyal customers are the ones who deserve your best prices and if they discover what you’re offering to new customers are likely to disappear in a huff meaning you’ve got to start the process all over again.

Take all these ideas on board and assuming that your core business is top quality in the first place, you find that your customers buy from you time and again and you’re not spending all your time replacing lost business.

Business Development Advisors will advise you on ways to both win and retain your customers. Please get in touch.