Companies lose an average of 10 to 30 percent of their customers each year. Much of this loss can be attributed to poor service. Companies that focus on customer retention tend to see profits grow anywhere from 25 to 100 percent annually. Nonprofits that focus on customer retention often see reductions in turnover and better results. In business, we all strive to provide outstanding customer service. Unfortunately, we don't always live up to those ideals. Here are four keys to unlocking richer, more meaningful relationships with your customers:
Learn your customers' names. Everybody appreciates being recognized when they walk into a place of business, particularly if they visit that company frequently. As the theme song to Cheers puts it, "Sometimes, you want to go where everybody knows your name." Make a concerted effort to learn the names of the people you come into contact with regularly, and greet them by name whenever possible.
But start with last names first. Of course, before you start addressing customers on a first-name basis, make sure they're comfortable with this practice. Some customers might find it disrespectful or "too" personal to have you greet them by their first name. Follow the customer's lead, if possible, or try starting with "Mr. Johnson," before calling your customer "Bob," particularly if they are not your peer.
Show genuine appreciation. Let your customers know you're glad to see them every time they walk through the door. Make an effort to greet people with a warm smile and an enthusiastic hello. Then back it up with outstanding service and a "can do" attitude. Thank your customers when they buy from you, and keep in touch to let them know they're on your mind... and appreciated for everything they do.
Avoid judgments and negativity. We've all heard the adage, "You can't judge a book by its cover." The same is true of people. Strive to approach each new or prospective customer with an open mind and positive attitude. Don't rush to judgment based on a first impression. Many times, those initial reactions and snap judgments don't hold up to the test of time.