Perhaps it takes an economic downturn…I mean readjustment…of the scale that we've had to realize just how important loyal customers are to a business. It goes without saying (but I will say it anyway) that without customers there is no business. But how much effort and emphasis does your organization place on getting new customers versus keeping existing customers?
Seth Godin posted a wonderfully succinct blog not long ago and asked what if there were "No new customers"? I join him in asking, "What do we do as individuals and organizations to show our customers that we value them?" While you're thinking about that, here are a few ways I think we can show customers that they light up our world.
- Take every opportunity to say "Thank You". Gratitude as a part of courtesy is one of the hallmarks of excellent customer service. Any customer service, sales, or support training worth doing includes that fundamental.
- Be generous with sincere compliments. Sometimes we think complimentary thoughts ("Wow. She brought all the data files we talked about needing.") but fail to say anything. Praise isn't just for direct reports. When it's sincere, it strengthens rapport by showing that you noticed and appreciated your client's efforts.
- Be proactive about nurturing your relationships. Stay in touch. Send articles, web links, a summary of a webcast, or book recommendations that you know will interest your client. And it doesn't always have to be the account manager that makes contact. Once the customer is a customer — has purchased your product or service — then service and support can also keep in touch. Technical support or field service can check back to make sure that what they did to resolve an issue is still stable.
- Make an effort! I'm a member of a LinkedIn group called Customer Experience Management and was reading a conversation thread earlier today. Gary M. Freedman, another member of the group, told a great story about his experience in a Wells Fargo Bank branch. He was impressed with the effort made to make him feel important — and he doesn't even have an account with the bank.
What he described was beyond good service and definitely took some effort. He wasn't just greeted; he was engaged in conversation so pleasant he didn't want to go to the teller. The teller didn't just do her job; she made it personal by offering a handshake at the end. What was done isn't so amazing as much as the fact that it WAS done and done so well that the customer felt special.
What do you and your organization do to show you value your existing customer? I'd love to hear your suggestions.