Imagine waving a magic wand and having every current and past customer re-use your services in the next 60 days. In dollar terms, think how many thousands this would be worth to you. Many organisations these days forget that much of their future business will ultimately come from their past clients. These clients already know how good their product or service was and hopefully still is.
Turn Customers into Advocates
One of the keys to growing a business is turning customers into advocates. Customers buy once, clients buy twice and advocates do your selling for you. Rather than spending all your advertising budget and energy strictly looking for new business, why not consider investing 50% of your advertising dollars and energy on current and past customers and only 50% on new business. This investment in past clients will encourage them to buy the second time. Ian Kennedy and Bryce Courteny tell us in The Power of One to One that if you can get a customer to make a second time purchase, they are 10 times more likely to make a third time purchase and ultimately become your advocate.
Make Contact Every 90 Days
Advocates are your raving fans. We earn the right to turn customers into advocates by exceeding their expectations. Good customer service is not enough these days – that is the norm – everyone is doing that. Turning customers into advocates is only the first step, we then need to keep them as advocates by continuing to exceed their expectations. Making contact every 90 days with your clients is critical to building a good relationship.
That contact is not asking them for an order, but rather doing something for them. This contact may be in the form of:
- a newspaper clipping (an article that you think may interest them);
- a referral (actually referring business to your client rather than just expecting the business to always be one-way);
- a thank you card (thanks for your business, your time, your referral);
- a birthday or Christmas card (although birthday cards are frowned upon in some professions, most clients appreciate your thoughtfulness); or
- invitations to networking functions (great way of showing how much you care).
Any of the above ideas gives your client a clear indication that you value them. Eighty per cent of the population doesn”t get recognition on the job or works for a boss who constantly catches them doing something wrong and rarely catches them doing something right. In addition, 50% of the small business owner/operators are constantly asked by their families “When are you going to get a real job?” Recognition is critical to 99% of the population and it is one of the easiest things for us to give.
Prior to the Melbourne Cup last year, I spoke to a group of bankers in the Victorian country. I suggested to them, that on Melbourne Cup morning, they phone their top 24 clients and tell them they have just run a sweep and that client”s horse is ______. If ________ comes first, the prize is dinner for two at a good restaurant, _____ comes second, flowers and chocolates, _________ comes third, champagne. Of course there would be no charge to the clients. Well, these bankers looked at me like I had four heads and was speaking a foreign language. Because I was suggesting some non-traditional banking ideas, they found it very hard to take these ideas on board.
Two bankers agreed to try the sweep idea. Their feedback was quite amazing. Not only did they exceed people”s expectations on Melbourne Cup day, but they also had a lot of fun. Months later, the clients whose horses did not run a place, were still talking about it!
Unlock the Magic of Networking
Giving recognition to your customers is one of the keys to unlocking the magic of networking in your business. By earning the right to gain repeat business, we not only grow our business, we also turn our customers into advocates.
Networking accounts for more than 75% of business happening in the marketplace. Those organisations foolish enough to believe they can continue to sell 1980”s style rather than network and build relationships, may need a real magic wand to survive in the next twelve months.