You won’t feel the benefit

coat

My mum always used to say this if I didn’t take my coat off as soon as I got inside. But this is about customers…

Think about why your customers buy from you. It could be any of these (and it could be different for each customer):

  • They have a contract with you
  • It’s convenient to do business with you
  • It takes too much effort or money to change suppliers
  • You are currently the lowest cost provider they have found
  • They like doing business with you
  • They understand how much benefit they get from doing business with you – the value you add to their business

If it’s any of the first 5, then you may have a problem in the future. They could look to change to a new provider offering lower cost, more convenience and a simple way to switch. They could even fall out with you or one of your employees about a minor issue which could prompt them to change. But, if it’s because they see the benefit in doing business with you, they are much more likely to stay long term.

So, how do you increase the value you add to your customers? Here are some thoughts:

Look at the money you spend advertising for new customers. Could you use some of it to offer free extra products or services for existing customers? Remember, you have a 70% chance of selling to an existing customer and a 20% chance of selling to a new customer. On average existing customers spend 50% more than new ones.

Get to know your customers and their weaknesses. These could be lack of knowledge, expertise or process issues. What can you do to help and add even more value to them?

Become an expert – start to write about things that will interest your customers and help their business. Sometimes this feels like giving away information and advice, but it helps your customers see you as an expert. This means they are much more likely to come to you when they need help. Regular blogs work because:

  • they build trust and show that you are an expert on the topic.
  • they add value to customers lives/businesses beyond the service/product itself.
  • they form a point of differentiation over competitors. That stops customers switching.
  • they give you more touch points to communicate with customers. That creates a stronger and more loyal business relationship.

Start to ask for customer feedback. This shows you care about how your customers feel and that you value their opinion. It gives you an insight into their needs and gives you ideas for improving your business.

If you are a B2B business, make the most of LinkedIn:

  • Create useful and value adding content aimed at your specific market.
  • Join LinkedIn Groups where your target market are members and post your content. Don’t overdo it… one new post every week at most.
  • Comment on other articles in the groups, offering expert opinions and recommendations.

Use Twitter as a customer service channel to show you care. It’s now one of the main ways customers talk about businesses (and complain!) so make sure you are where your customers are. It’s an efficient way to talk to customers but make sure you add a human touch! A Miller Heiman 2012 Best Practices Study showed that companies who listen to their customers have 40% better customer retention than those who don’t.

Use white papers and e-books to prove your expertise. This is an example of “inbound” or “pull” marketing rather than “pushing” your products. It can take longer to see results but it creates much better long term relationships with customers. It works because:

  • Instead of being just a supplier, you become an expert source your customers depend on.
  • Content is a great way to show customers what problems your products and services can help them solve. This leads to better expectations from customers.
  • Educating customers about your product or service is key to meeting customer expectations. No one likes a service that under-delivers, so set expectations, then try to exceed them!

Use Facebook to build an engaged customer community. This works for both B2C and B2B businesses. It gives you another ‘owned’ channel to communicate with your customers. Instead of relying on customers to open e-mails, you can push messages and valuable content to customers.

 

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