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Marketing Tips: Growing Your Business by Getting your Customers Back more often

As you may have heard us say many times, there are 4 ways to grow any business, in terms of expanding a business and making it more valuable.  These 4 ways can be categorised as follows:

  1. Increasing the number of  new customers, of the type you want
  2. Increasing the number of times they come back
  3. Increasing the average sale value
  4. Improving the effectiveness of each process

Here are some ways to boost the second way to grow your business, i.e. the number of times your customers buy from your business again.

  1. Invite your customers back!  If a customer is delighted with what you do, they'll be willing to continue the relationship.  But often what it takes is a little invitation to encourage them to visit you again or order more products/services. For example, if you are a retailer, you may send a postcard or a catalogue to your customers with a special offer or sale, let them know about your new season range or invite them to a special VIP event. If you have an effective database and are dealing with business customers, you could track particular purchases of your key customers and trigger a point at which you make a courtesy call to tell them you noticed that they may be running low on their products and would they like you to organise a re-order of those products. 

    The same system can apply for "service" businesses. For example:

    • A hairdresser could send a friendly letter/postcard to some of her clients, say 1.5-2 months after their previous appointment, reminding them that to keep their hair healthy they should have their haircut very soon, so to please call for their next convenient appointment time;

    • A physiotherapist may send a little notice to individual clients about the importance of some follow-up treatment (when it's applicable and necessary, of course!);

    • An auto-service business could send postcard reminders that a customer's vehicle is due for a service or tune; and so on.

    Whatever you do, make your offers relevant, timely and beneficial for your customers, otherwise they will ignore your efforts.

  2. Nurture your customers!It's important to nurture your relationships with your customer in the same way you would any other important relationship. Make customers feel valued and motivated to keep purchasing from you. Here are some ideas on how to nurture your existing customers:

    • Build an effective customer database. Collecting relevant information on your customers and keeping it in a database will help you to understand their needs better and will therefore provide the platform for enabling you to better match their needs and go 'the extra mile' for them as well.

    • Develop an annual communication calendar for the contacts you'll make with your customers. Try and combine general communication (e.g. newsletters, seminars) with personal communication (e.g. birthdays, anniversaries, congratulating them on significant business/life events). The more personal you make it - which includes making it relevant and specific to your customers needs and interests - the more value it has.

    • Establish a loyalty program that rewards frequent purchasers.

    • Make follow-up phone calls to make sure they are 100% delighted with the product or service they received from you.

  3. Provide awesome service. Another great way to keep customers coming back to you more often is to offer service that goes above and beyond the norm. Creating and promoting a Team Commitment or list of Service Performance Standards can impress your customer enough to keep them returning and referring others. A Team Commitment statement outlines what you and your team will do to provide awesome service for your customers. Our Towards Awesome Service Program can specifically help you with this.

    Additionally you can provide value-added services such as:

    • Ongoing education, advice or support to help customers get more out of their purchase. For example furniture store might post out a booklet on "12 ways to decorate your home" or "7 great ways to reduce clutter" with specific purchases. Or a supplier of Electronic Equipment might offer 24-hour online support.

    • Provide Guarantees, and we don't just mean 12 month workmanship guarantees like everyone else. Think about something that will make the customer's life easier. Also think about what competitors may not be doing very well, but that your customers would really appreciate you going the extra mile to do well for them  (e.g. on-time delivery, delightful overall experience, etc.). By guaranteeing something, it means you are committing to providing that special service, and it reduces the customer's perceived risk of something going wrong.

    • Providing 'Soft dollar' thank you gifts with purchases or on an ad-hoc basis. These items have a high perceived value to your customers but are a low hard dollar cost to you, and are a nice way to pleasantly surprise the customer or thank them for doing business with you.

  4. Gather feeedback.Part of building a relationship with your clients involves understanding their needs and finding out from them how well they feel you are providing those needs. Asking for feedback lets customers know that you truly care about them and their opinion. And the feedback you get can be extremely valuable for your strategic planning. Here are some great ways to gather customer feedback:

    • Follow-up calls. Following up with your customers after their purchase enables you to ensure the customer is delighted with their purchase. Equally as important, it enables you to fix any issues/concerns the customer has quickly, and deal with any complaints immediately.

    • "Contentment" Surveys. (commonly called  "satisfaction" surveys, but we don't encourage clients to just 'satisfy' their customers...we go through this aspect in our Towards Awesome Service Program. These written surveys are another medium for gathering feedback, and are often posted by businesses a few times per year or are provided in conjunction with the product/service. It's sometimes difficult to get these returned from customers, particularly if the customer is happy. Reply paid envelopes (for easy, convenient postage) or Survey boxes at your business (so customers can complete and submit the survey there while in-store) can assist with encouraging response. It's also important to make your survey oncise and easy to complete, and if you need guidance with this, please contact us at feedback@shd.com.au

    • Web based feedback. Having a feedback form on your website means at any point customers are able to provide you with helpful feedback - compliments, complaints and suggestions! It may enable them to let you know things that they didn't want to say to you in person.

    • Third party surveys. A few of our clients have benefited from having us conduct some customer feedback exercises on their behalf.  This special service provided by Schulz Hobbs involves preparing the specific survey questions related to our client's objectives, conducting the survey, and providing an evaluation report with implications and recommendations . The surveys have been conducted via a variety of mediums including telephone interviews, electronic forms and focus groups and they enable our clients to receive objective feedback from their clients.Contact us for more information about this.

Please contact Warren Hobbs on ph (08) 8179 1111 or email us, if you'd like to discuss any of these aspects further, and for assistance with applying these in your particular business.

Some information in this article was adapted from RAN ONE International Network, and Reprinted with permission from www.ranone.com

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