How to Keep Your Customer Forever
Yes, it's true. You can keep all your current customers, while
you continue to grow new business. The "secret" is to
form a partnership with your customer. Become such an integral
part of his success that he'll never let you go.
There are critical elements that go into the formation of a partnership.
The following recommendations have ensured my success with customers
during the past twenty years. These are the basics that you need
to form that critical partnership, and to keep your customer forever,
even if your prices are higher than your competition. Your customer
will tell the world that you're worth it!
Ask yourself these questions:
Are you focusing on your customer's success, not your own?
Do you know what your customer needs in order to be considered a success?
Who does the customer have to please?
How is he evaluated/measured, and by whom?
What are some of the tools your customer needs to be successful?
What are your customer's top three goals?
Do you have a strategy to help him reach to his goals?
If you can't provide these answers as you read this, you're too
focused on your success, rather than your customer's. When you
link arms with the customer to ensure his success, you ensure
Call your customer every day.
Call your customer every morning at the same time. Call to say
hello. Call to check in. Ask how things are going. Ask if there's
anything you can help him with today. Ask him what's new on his
site. Share news from your site. Talk together. It's even okay
to laugh together! Remember this is your partner. I made my daily
morning phone calls to my customer on the West Coast, as well
as to my customer who worked around the corner. I found that the
daily phone calls provided the perfect mechanism to head off any
potential problems. When you speak to your customer every day,
there are no unpleasant surprises awaiting you at the end of the
Share the knowledge.
Once you've done your homework, and have found out what your customer
needs in order to be successful, be on the lookout for articles
of interest. Read the business section of the newspaper every
day with your customer in mind. Learn everything you can about
your customers' business. Team with other vendors to do presentations
for him. For example, in the technology industry, Year 2000 information
is hot, hot, hot! There's lots of information on the Web regarding
Year 2000. Dazzle your customer with your knowledge of his industry.
Do only quality stuff.
Everything that you present to your customer needs to be first
class. Your customer's first impression of your work starts with
your business card and the message on your answering machine.
Do these items represent the true quality of your work? I remember
walking away from a strategic alliance because my future teaming
partner proudly presented me with a document that had typos all
over the front page! Your customer should never have to correct
your work. As a partner to your customer you need to ensure that
your work is always on time, and within budget. And make sure
that it's perfect. Your customer will learn very quickly that
his "partner" has the same high standards that he does.
Give something away.
One of the most successful business people I know hand-delivers
home-baked cookies, beautifully presented, to her customers every
Christmas. I've given software to my customers, as well as performed
small services that were not written into the contract. Small
gestures can grow into significant add-on business! It's not unusual
to have contracts extended for an additional five years (at higher
rates!) when you demonstrate your generosity. I promise that you
will always receive far more than you give away. It's just plain
good old business practice.
You can keep your customer forever by focusing on his success,
calling him every day, sharing your knowledge, doing quality work,
and giving something away. Become your customer's partner by helping
him to grow his business, and in turn, he'll help you to grow
yours. It always works. Enjoy!