In my opinion, one of the most serious errors made by many small businesses is spending so much time trying to bring in new clients that they neglect their best clients. While adding new clients certainly is important, it is existing clients who are currently paying the bills.
In addition, with the right strategies, I believe that it sometimes can be easier to grow revenue with top clients who, after all, already favor the business, than to bring in new ones. Therefore, I suggest, as a small business owner, you make it a top priority to keep your best clients happy. Here are seven tips for keeping best clients for life.
Stay in touch
Even if you feel that you stay in touch with your best clients as often as necessary, it wouldn't hurt to be sure of that by instituting a program of regular calls. For example, why not have a strict policy of contacting each top customer at least once a month even if it is just to touch base and say hello. Put these calls on your calendar as you would any other important business engagement, and make a point of calling personally. Also, be certain that your employees know who your business's best clients are so that they always treat them accordingly.
Say thank you
Good clients deserve to know that they are appreciated, so make a point of saying thank you for their business clearly and often. Let them know how much you value their support and loyalty.
Ask for feedback
Asking your best clients for their input about your business can strengthen your relationship and, possibly, result in valuable insights. If you are considering introducing a new product or service, ask them what they think, or if you are planning a change, especially one that may directly affect them, solicit their opinions first. Not only will this make them feel appreciated, but it may help you avoid mistakes if their reviews are less than enthusiastic.
While thank you notes or calls are nice, clients also like to receive more concrete rewards like "best customer" deals, discounts, or free services, so look for creative ways to give back to your best clients.
Offer favorable credit terms
Consider offering favorable credit terms to your best clients who pay their bills on time and generate a lot of sales for your business. Not only will this let them know how much you appreciate them, but, giving top clients more time to pay or more favorable terms on their purchases also could result in increased sales.
Ask what more you can do for them
Make a habit of occasionally asking your best clients what more you can do for them. Perhaps there are additional services they would purchase from your business if they were available, perhaps they would trade up to higher-quality products if you had a trade-in option, or perhaps they would do more business with you if you provided quicker delivery or volume discounts. You'll never know unless you ask.
Go the extra mile
When it comes to your best clients, do whatever you must to keep them happy. If a top customer needs a product or service on short notice, make it happen, even if you have to work extra hours to get it done, or if he/she has a problem with a product or service, make it right no matter what it takes. The extra effort could be well worth it in the long run.
Jessi Hales, Editor, www.drivingretention.com, "Five Tips for Keeping Loyal Customers Loyal/Driving Retention"
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