Do you treat your customer base as your biggest asset? Strive to turn happy customers into loyal ones; it's less expensive to retain existing customers than to acquire new followers. Your marketing plans could include a customer retention strategy, as well as one on customer acquisition. If a customer is dissatisfied, doing your best to resolve the issue may even improve your existing relationship.

Each of your goals is a step towards the next one:

  • Customer satisfaction
  • Customer loyalty
  • Customer retention
  • Business success

Customer satisfaction does not imply loyalty; even a satisfied customer might be wooed away by your competitors' prices and location. Find out what could make your customers stray before they do so and avoid creating the problem. What do they value most about your business? What would entice them to switch brands?

Excellent customer service is a key factor in building loyalty, so invest in the people who focus on this area. On-going training can help maintain skills, confidence and a positive attitude. Common sense strategies might make all the difference:

  • Empower employees by allowing your front line to solve problems and bend the rules when it comes to saving customer relationships.
  • Treat each customer as an individual; don't rely on policy alone.
  • Aim for authenticity; customers can tell when service is insincere.

People are more likely to take their business elsewhere than to make the time to explain why they are leaving. Those who speak up, however, can be of much value; you have a chance to respond to the complaint and rectify the situation. The complaining customer should not be treated as an enemy, but as a useful resource.

Resolving an issue quickly is smart damage control. Dissatisfied customers don't need more time to seethe and spread their discontent. A resolution that is fast and fair could pre-empt a viral strike. With access to social media, upset customers have the power to escalate a private issue into a very public problem. If you compound a service failure with a failure to resolve the issue, the message you send is one of not caring about your customer at all.

Be proactive; develop a customer relationship management  before problems arise. Let us help you brush up on sales and customer service tips.