A typical service business can lose 15% to 20% of its customer base every year. So the potential loss from customers who jump ship is huge.
Why do customers defect?
Generally, it’s because they are not satisfied. It’s not that you aren’t doing your job; it’s just that you aren’t doing enough to give them a good reason to stay with you. This alone can account for over 90% of lost business. So the question is, how to satisfy your customers and keep them coming back?
The answer lies in good communications and in developing a true relationship with your customers. The first thing to do is ask questions. Customers almost never tell you when they like something and rarely tell you when they don’t. So it’s up to you to ask them, “What are we doing right? What are we doing wrong?”
How do I get my customers tell me their true feelings?
You can do this with a simple questionnaire or survey. It should be short and easy to complete. Ask open-ended questions so people can express themselves. You might be surprised at what you find out. Plus, the fact that you ask will often make people feel good about your company even when they’re not happy about something. Once you discover what people like or don’t like, you are able to fix what’s broken and improve what works.
You should also stay in touch with your customers. Many businesses use a newsletter with information on new products, helpful articles, inside company information, stories about customers, and other items people find interesting.
Maybe I need to give something back?
Last, be generous. Everyone wants to make a profit, but customers tend to be loyal to businesses that treat them like friends. Little acts of unexpected generosity can have a surprising effect on your customers. A $25 coupon for loyal customers or a small extra service for new customers may not seem like much, but these gestures will be remembered.
Consistency is marketing’s friend.
Many small business service companies miss the boat by not marketing on a consistent schedule. During upward sales spikes, marketing efforts are put on hold while everyone tends to customers. Is that the reason the business finally slows down?
Come hell or high water, never let your marketing efforts wane. Staying on a consistent marketing course keeps the business afloat.
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