Not many business owners believe that they can keep their customers for life. We’re well aware that we are operating our businesses in times when competition knows no bounds and where our spoilt for choice customers are more empowered and more fickle than they have ever been. Most of today’s business owners are resigned to customers coming and going.
However, the ideal of cultivating customers for life does still hold a lot of appeal. And, for good reason. Customers for life are the proverbial pot of gold. So, while we may not believe it’s entirely possible for our businesses to deliver the rainbows, the concept of a ‘customer for life’ remains something significant to strive for and a modern-day inspiration to sharpen our saws when it comes to customer service.
It is vital to keep in mind that your business creates it customers. Every touchpoint is either building or degrading those essential relationships. You do have the power to influence how loyal many of your customers can be. It’s all about where you put your focus. If you more fired up about attracting new customers and pay little attention to retaining your existing ones, you can expect to experience low levels of customer loyalty. If looking after your existing customers well is your priority, you’ll get those new customers that grow your business through word of mouth.
It’s important to recognise that our technological world has not just empowered consumers to more easily ‘find the best deals’ and flit around. It’s also enabled them to become the unofficial marketers on your behalf on an unprecedented scale. ‘Word of mouth’ has gone global and there’s never been so much opportunity, or so vast a scale, for your existing customers to recommend you and be a voluntary champion of your business.
But that’s only going to happen if they are steadfastly impressed by your business. This means that your customer touchpoints in fact need to embody perennial building blocks of solid and mutually satisfying relationships:
- Recognise and respect the person
- Care about what they want from you
- Make a deep effort to really get to know them
- Keep in touch often
- Go out of your way for them
- Show your gratitude to them
Here are 5 strategies to help you develop customers for life
- Prioritize your existing customers – Don’t believe that just because customers have come on board and you have their details logged in your CRM system that you’ve now ‘got them’. Existing customers are not a passive return on some investment you once made; they are resource to power your future growth. They deserve priority in your business.
- Always be accountable – Make promises to your customers and keep them. Intend to impress, delight and please them. They don’t need you; you need them.
- Be generous with your customers – Embrace the spirit of generosity and find the ways to exceed expectations and show gratitude. Even a small gesture like a free delivery that acknowledges a referral goes a long way to building a satisfying, ongoing relationship.
- Connect, listen and invite your customers into your business – Get creative about ways to draw customers closer to your business. Invite them in to tell you about what they want and need from you. Introduce them to your staff which serves them and open up really human communication channels. Let them know your business as well as you know them.
- Stay connected – Unite your customers in the real world or via social media channels. Send them regular, pertinent news that alerts them to things they are interested in. Share updates and developments regularly. Keep them posted on how your products, services and business are developing.
Of course, not every customer will become a customer for life. But those who do will be a force for your business. Don’t shy away from the human connection. Get close to your customers and let them get close to you. People like to do business with people they trust and ‘customers for life’ are people too.