Here is the story of two companies. I bought a ton of products from both this year. Company 1’s offerings were stellar, but had a laissez-faire attitude toward the significant hurdles I faced during the procurement process. Company 2’s product line was less impressive, but the folks there jumped through hoops to ensure that I was happy and satisfied with my purchases.
Which company am I more likely to buy from again?
In the small business world, everything is personal. You can have the most incredible product or service the customer has ever seen, but if she doesn’t like you, it won’t matter. Quality is important, of course, but trust trumps it every time. The way Company 2 treated me makes me want to give its offerings another shot, and it makes me want to recommend it to others.
I’m not the first person to say that it’s much easier to sell to an existing customer than to get a new customer. However, despite the fact this idea is almost a cliché, small business owners continually expend more effort marketing to strangers than taking care of the people who are right under their noses. Once you’ve gone to all the trouble to seal the initial deal, here are five things you must do to get repeat business from your customers.
Small businesses are often appealing because customers like to support the local guy (or gal) who is just like them. As your business grows, you might lose the intimate bond you have with your customers, and that’s dangerous. If you want to make a terrific impression, owners should connect one-on-one with customers whenever possible and especially if there has been a snafu and the customer is angry. If a customer understands that you are there for him personally, he will be more likely to give your company the benefit of the doubt.
Give Them Something Special
Reward programs are a no brainer – it costs virtually nothing to design a simple repeat visitor card. And if you have the choice of getting your morning latte from Starbucks or the neighborhood joint and the neighborhood joint is giving you a free scone on your next visit, you’re going there. Also, give existing customers a sneak peek at new products or services and give them freebies or deep discounts in exchange for feedback.
For more ideas, check out the full post at the AMEX Open Forum.