Customer Attraction/Retention: Part II of II - In Part I, I covered the key aspects that are important to gaining interest and the ultimate purchase from a prospective customer. These included: Convenience factors of location, accessibility and time; soundness of offerings and capabilities; track record in business; accuracy and reliability; and value for time and money spent.
Getting a customer to purchase from you initially may seem like the most critical hurdle to leap over. However, what most businesses fail to understand is that retaining and engaging the customer to be one that is loyal, confident, and most important, impassioned about doing business with you on an ongoing basis is the real key. This takes them from share of mind (knowing about you) to ongoing share of wallet (purchasing from you repeatedly) to share of heart (caring about you and becoming loyal to only you).
The factors that are key to understand in building and securing share of heart in a customer include: friendliness; flexibility; speed & efficiency; a unique experience; and the WOW factor.
1. Friendliness Means You're Likable: The bottom line is people want to do business with people they like. Whether this is you personally or your employees serving the customer, how likable are you as a whole? Do you make customers feel welcome, appreciated, and valued when you interact with them? Are you happy to see them and do business with them, and are they happy and engaged with you?
2. Being Flexible Is About Options: Customers appreciate a company that is willing to be flexible in doing business with them. This doesn't mean compromising. It does mean offering options based on knowing the customer, or being open to options if there is a unique situation with a customer. This could be special hours, special payment terms, or a myriad of other possibilities. It is simply a matter of taking the time to truly know and understand what is important to your customer and then accommodating them in a manner that is a win for them while also being a win for you.
3. Speed is Measured by Efficiency & Responsiveness: Communication is the key word to be understood here, when it comes to a perception of speed in how you deliver what you offer to your customer. Are they being kept informed throughout the entire process of status and expectations? Are they being reassured about efficiencies being taken? Are you responsive to their inquiries, questions, and concerns? Do you handle concerns quickly and with your customer's best interests in mind?
4. A Unique Experience Engages: Creating a memorable experience is a critical part of branding in a business that most companies underestimate the power in which it possesses. No matter what type of business you are in, a customer should experience your business in a way they cannot realize anywhere else, specifically when compared to competitors. How can you make doing business with you something unique and appreciated? How would you like your customers to feel whenever they interact with your company?
5. That WOW Factor Solidifies Loyalty: What truly sets companies apart from others when it comes to customer loyalty is when they have mastered the WOW factor. What this means is creating an experience combined with something unexpected that literally blows customers away. This is what gets customers talking to others and becoming your greatest champions in the marketplace. What are your competitors overlooking that could make a pinnacle difference to your customers?
Your customers are the life blood to your business' longevity, stability and vitality. Understanding that attracting and retaining them is an everyday process of earning their confidence and building their trust will keep them happy and growing and your bottom line happy and growing too.
Sherré DeMao is author of the nationally acclaimed books, 50 Marketing Secrets of Growth Companies in Down Economic Times, www.50marketingsecrets.com, and Me, Myself & Inc., www.memyselfandinc.com, Her column seeks to help business owners build and grow sustainable enterprises and businesses with economic value and preference in the marketplace.