It’s a reality many small business owners forget: Obtaining new customers is far more expensive than retaining existing ones. Here are some tips to retaining hard-won customers:

  1. Focus on relationship building. Strong relationships typically last much longer than many products, pricing, advertising campaigns, or monthly/quarterly/annual sales quotas. Building relationships creates loyal, repeat customers.
  2. Identify your niche and become the world’s foremost expert in that niche for your customers. Define your niche and fill it. Beyond merely filling a vacuum, become an expert resource for your customers. You will be amazed at the customer loyalty and strong relationships your company can build by offering customers content that informs and entertains.
  3. Look at your business from your customer’s perspective, not your own. Too many businesses develop plans and strategies that address their sales, operations and financial goals, without factoring in the customers’ concerns. For example, senior management often adopts goals related to monthly/quarterly/yearly sales quotas. They fail to understand the “adversarial” nature of these actions as they relate to the organization’s customers. Focusing on your customers’ desires generates strategies and revenue plans that deliver more customers (and higher sales).
  4. Always deliver on your promises. Regardless of the extravagance of your company’s customer promises, always deliver. Along with creating more loyal customers, you will strengthen your brand, build trust in your organization and give your competition horrendous problems in matching your winning promises.
  5. Offer the most outstanding customer service possible. After what seemed like decades of companies—and customers—downplaying the importance of impeccable service before, during and after the sale, people now consistently rate superior customer service at or near the top of their wish lists. Some companies, such as Nordstrom and Costco, realized the importance of customer service even during the “dark days” of apparent customer apathy. Clients and customers for most products and services no longer suppress this desire, demanding outstanding customer service. Be ready to provide it.

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