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Keeping existing customers is critical to the long-term success of any business. They can be the source of repeat business, additional business and referrals of quality prospects. Quality products that do what they are supposed to do are one element of a happy customer relationship. But so are many intangibles.
Appreciating customer’s business
In all cases, your customers have selected your product instead of those of the competition. This conscious decision was probably based on the product and on your company. You should feel good about that choice and let the customer know of your appreciation. It can be a simple, but heartfelt, thank you or you can do something more. Delivering something extra (and probably not in the form of a price break) can demonstrate your appreciation. Try including a little gift or shipping overnight without charging more and see the reaction. Be sure the customer knows you are taking the extra step.
Valuing the relationship
Most customers like to do business with existing vendors. It is easier, usually faster and they know what to expect. They want the relationship to work and they know it must be mutually beneficial. This is something more than appreciating the business. No one likes to feel that they are on the wrong end of a one-way relationship. A constant stream of sales pitches can create a one-way feeling. Find ways to remind the customers of your presence without constantly bombarding them with sales pitches. You may want to consider some form of a newsletter that combines information the customer can use along with information about your products or your company.
Caring about customer’s issues
As much as you may want your customers to be concerned about your success, their primary interest is their own success. If you can provide ideas or suggestions that can help them be more successful or do their job easier, it shows you care about them. Certainly asking a simple "How is it going today?" may prompt a response. Offering a useful insight that the customer may be able to use can work wonders. Without violating a different customer relationship, you may be able to tell how a different customer was able to address an issue important to the customer. Depending on the situation, you may even be able to arrange a call from the other customer. Position yourself and your company as a source of solutions.
Making the customer feel special
It can be difficult to differentiate among customers. Yet, many companies are able to do this well. Airlines provide special benefits for frequent fliers, companies offer special phone lines or parts of their websites for groups of customers and others have special check-out or service lines. Interestingly, these special benefits are more about service than they are about price. They provide a convenience or save the customer time.
Respecting the customer
The term "respect" can be difficult to define. In summary, respecting the customer is really just treating them the way you would like to be treated. Consider the relationships and experiences you have with those selling you items or services. Identify what makes you feel good about doing business with those organizations and you will probably be well on your way to finding many ways to give your customers the respect they want and deserve.