Customer Service Tips to Encourage Repeat and Referral Business By Leslie Truex Updated October 12, 2015 Many years ago, I...
Customer Service Tips to Encourage Repeat and Referral Business
By Leslie Truex
Updated October 12, 2015
Many years ago, I had MCI for my long distance carrier. These were the days before unlimited long-distance. During that time, my business required a lot of long distance calling, for which I was paying about $0.25 cents a minute. It was adding up to be a huge expense. When I saw an MCI commercial offering a lower long-distance rate, I called to ask for the lower rate. MCI told me I couldn’t have it.
The rate was only for new customers.
Offering incentives is a great way to attract new customers, but what about the people who’ve already bought? For some reasons, many businesses take for granted and even neglect their current customers. I actually cancelled my account, and later MCI called and offered me the lower rate. But if I wasn’t important enough to take care of as a customer, I wasn’t going back. Perhaps that’s why MCI is no longer around.
Your current customers and clients are your very best source of repeat and referral business. First, they’ve already bought from you which means they’re primed to buy from you again. Second, if they like what you offer, they’ll tell others. When it comes to business, it’s easier and cheaper to keep a customer/client than it is to get a new one. As a result, customer service should be an important part of your marketing and business plan. Here are some areas to consider.
The saying, you have one chance to make a good first impression is true. How do people first learn about your business and what sort of impression does it provide? Your website, business card and other marketing tools should be professional looking. If it looks slapped together or done in the cheap, people might question the quality of your work.
When you’re out and about in the world, do you look like you just rolled out of bed or are you neat and tidy. Personally, I like working in my pajamas, but when I leave my house, I try to look presentable. That doesn’t necessarily mean fancy. I might wear jeans, but I’m not messy or unkempt.
Ease of Doing Business with You
Once people get past their initial impression and are ready to take the next step, how easy is it for them? Is your website organized so they can find what they need? Is your contact information clearly displayed? Do you offer a variety of payment options? Is delivery or follow up timely? Leaving email or phone messages unanswered for days will result in people doing business elsewhere. So make it easy for your customers and clients to get the information they need and order.
How quickly do you respond to questions or complaints? You’ve worked hard to generate a lead or a sale, don’t lose them by ignoring them or treating them badly. While the customer isn’t always right, they always deserve to be treated with professionalism.
Some customers are difficult, others are downright mean, and maybe you don’t want to salvage the relationship. But bad news travels fast, and that one negative client can spread their opinion, ruining your reputation quickly. Killing with kindness is an effective way to prevent unhappy customers from bad-mouthing you. In many cases, being polite and helpful leads to the customer apologizing for being rude to you. Regardless of how the customer treats you, always be professional and do your best to help respond to their questions or concerns.
People like to be appreciated and rewarded. Consider how many reward cards you have or coupons you get from retailers for being a loyal customer. Show your clients and customers you appreciate them by treating them well. Offer a reward program, coupons or a discount as a thank you for their continued patronage. Not only will this keep them coming back, but it increases the likelihood they’ll tell others about your business.
Most businesses don’t think about customer service until it’s too late. But having a plan for providing quality customer support and service is crucial to home business success.