It’s a tough time for most business leaders today. Leaders demand growth for their business, and so marketers are constantly focused on getting their products and services into the hands of new customers. Unfortunately, this intense focus on attracting new customers has diverted attention from established or past customers. It is significantly more expensive to attract a new customer than to retain an existing customer. So why are so many companies focusing their efforts and money only on new customers? This is because every organization is committed to growth and growth is associated with the creation of new business. However, in order to maintain continued profitability, companies must establish and maintain profitable relationships with all of their customers (past, current and future). Business leaders must do four things to have profitable customer relationships.
- You must continually attract new (profitable) customers in the industry sectors you have identified in your strategic plan.
2. You must actively retain current (profitable) customers and re-establish relationships with former customers.
3. You must personalize your product and service offerings to better meet the expectations and needs of your customers.
4. Your employees should be continually trained and rewarded for outstanding customer service.
New customers: The industry sectors you have identified for growth in your strategic plan need to be implemented across your business. Your sales team should have its commission structure designed to reflect (and reward) sales made in the areas you are committed to pursuing. When you market and sell in your new market, you need to make sure that the products and services you offer are profitable. In other words, you should perform customer profitability analysis at the start of the sale, and periodically throughout the sales cycle. Too many companies focus their marketing dollars on their customers who are the biggest revenue generator. Remember that profits are revenue minus costs, so you need to ensure that all of your customer relationships produce the results you originally intended.
Current and Past Clients: You’ve worked hard to attract new clients to your business and know you need to keep working to build and strengthen the relationship you’ve created. The more you know about your customer’s organization, buying patterns and habits, growth plans, and operations, the more successful you will be in designing your relationship programs to meet their needs. The goal is to be so familiar and become so indispensable to your customers that your business is the only one they consider when purchasing products and services.
So many companies offer special rates, bundles, or incentives to attract new customers, while completely ignoring their current customers. If you want to prevent your customers from switching to your competitors (to take advantage of their “new customer discounts”), you need to create loyalty (recognition/appreciation) programs and referral discounts and/or incentives. If you value your customers, reward them for their continued trust in your company’s products and services. You may also consider instituting a “frequent user” program. The longer a customer does business with your company, they may receive either a discount on future work (or purchases) or a free service.
Reach out to your customers regularly to provide valuable information such as case studies, success stories, testimonials, and new product/service launches. Invite your customers to give you feedback on their needs/wants. The more inclusive you are with your customers, the more they will value the relationship with your business.
Personalize your programs. Technology has given us a myriad of communication vehicles to reach our target audiences. Technology is a tool to support customer service, not to replace it. Always give your customers the option to speak with a human being. I know having trained customer service specialists can increase costs, but think of how much business you lose by not having someone available to visit your customers when they need help. help, have questions or have a complaint that needs to be resolved. .
In order to exceed your customers’ expectations, you need to use your technology and marketing acumen to personalize your relationship with each customer. Make sure your CRM (customer relationship manager) programs are integrated with your customer contact programs and that you work with your customers to understand how and when they want to be contacted. The more you know about your individual customers and can customize your marketing and sales program to meet their needs, the stronger your relationships with your customers are.
Social media continues to revolutionize the way they do business. Anyone can quickly search your business to find out your company’s customer satisfaction history. Your company’s reputation is one of your organization’s most valuable assets, so be sure to do everything you can to maintain great customer relationships and continually build a strong reputation for your business.
Employees: People treat people the way they are treated. In order to provide exceptional customer service (a must-have requirement for every employee in your organization), you must ensure that your organization’s core values specifically address your commitment to your customers and employees. Customer satisfaction and employee satisfaction are intertwined, and business leaders need to recognize and reward employees for the value they continually bring to the organization. When things go wrong, your employees need the training and resources to turn your dissatisfied customers into happy, satisfied and loyal customers. Make sure you have a resolution ladder in place, so unhappy customers can be connected immediately with someone empowered to resolve their issue.
For your business to create and maintain long-term profitability, you must continually develop and improve your customer relationships. Treat your customers like the valuable assets they are. Periodically perform customer profitability analysis and use your technology to customize your products and services to meet the needs of your individual customers and watch your business grow dramatically!
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