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10 ways to keep your customers

I think the world needs a revolution when it comes to taking better care of customers.

Think about it. When were you last treated with perfect service? When did you last feel completely happy after a purchase? I guess that this was a while ago. But when it happened, you were so surprised that you immediately shared it with all your friends.

Many companies are mentally somewhere between the old Soviet Union and the United States, with a hint of the Soviet Union. There are just too many sellers who are so dissatisfied with what they do, that they take it out on the customers. It's bad service, people who don't return your calls. Is life a little too good? Is the competition too weak? Is the reason that companies today have so many customers that it doesn't matter if they lose a few from time to time?

Today's topic: How do you get customers to always return?

1. Reward the faithful customer
When I was head writer for a well known Swedish TV-series (one of the most commercial jobs you can have), I often added little things to the story line that rewarded the faithful viewer for watching every day. It was little details. An object that a story had revolved around would pop up 30 episodes later to add a little twist to today's story, but only for the faithful who had been watching every day.
This can be applied to any business. Let customers be more involved in the process by examining what they think about your business. And when you have made the changes that the customers wanted, tell them about it. Show them that you change because they want you to. I often say that if you give your customers what they want the most, you will also get what you want the most from them. What is it you want the most? Is it a Porsche? Is it a lakeside house? Is it freedom? To reward the faithful customers is a way to ultimately give yourself what you want.

2. Give a concrete offer directly with the next purchase
Send a so-called “Bounce back ”with all orders. A “Bounce back” is exactly what it sounds like, something that should bounce back quickly. Let's say you send out your product on a Monday. When the product is delivered to the customer, you can directly add an offer for a complementary product and make the offer valid until Friday. If you have a store, make a discount offer on the next purchase of a complementary product to make the customer want to return.

3. Defend your place in your customers' hearts
In the periods between the purchases you need to remind your customers that you still exist. Write a letter. Send out a newsletter that talks about news of the company in a non-commercial way. Remind them that you are still there when the need for what you can deliver pops up in their heads. Need comes in cycles. When it's time for a customer to make a purchase, it should be your business that is the first one that enters their minds.

4. Show customers that they are important to you
If they can't get hold of you, always make sure there is someone to talk to at your company, even if it's only you that the customer is looking for. When your customer has a need for your business, the responsibility to make contact shouldn't fall upon the customer.

5. Find out what customers want in addition to what you give them now
If your product is blue, how do you know that it's the color that customers really want? Ask them. Find out what they want your product to be like, so that they will buy it.

6. Create opportunities to act in the way the customer wants
If the customer is always in need of article # 3, make sure that the customer has an order form with everything completed except the quantity of article number 3. Making it easy for customers is a great way of showing that they are important to you.
Is it possible to make installment payments? Can I pay by card? Is it possible to order by fax, phone, internet, by mail? Make it as easy as possible for customers to order. Ideally, if the customer wanted your product or service, it would be on the table in front of him/her one second after he/she placed the order. Bring your product/service as close to this goal as you possibly can.

7. Create loyalty programs
Everyone is doing it now and it's pretty nice to get an extra check of $100 from a big department store to use for shopping. Can you do it too? There are two benefits of the system:
a) Your loyal customers gets $100 extra to shop for.
b) He/she will most certainly buy stuff that exceeds the $100 when the check is redeemed for merchandise.

8. Surprise your customers with a discount they don't expect
Even if you have a faithful customer, don't take him/her for granted, it's deadly. If you invoice customers each month, deduct 20 percent off the bill at some point as a pleasant surprise. If you have a store, you can give away something for free today. It's the little details that means the most. If you have a customer who buys his sandwich for lunch every day in your store, treat him to a free drink sometimes. Make it run nice and smooth to shop by showing that you recognize the customer and are pleased by the daily visit.

9. Show your knowledge
It's easy. If you sell computers, then you're probably good enough to develop a questionnaire where customers can answer questions about what they need a computer for. That way you can decide which computer your customer actually needs. Show that it's the customer who must be satisfied, not your accountant. The customer wants the computer they need, not your most expensive or the one you have the highest margins on. If you can make the customer understand your intentions, you will get something that is worth far more than money - a long term relationship.

10. Make people understand that you are here to stay
Your company should signal continuity and stability for the rest of us to believe in you. Show the customers your business idea.
Show people how you plan to make life easier for them. View your profile and how it differs from other companies. Look at how the difference can be seen either in quality or in the customer's wallet. Look at how it should be done in both short and long term. Look at what your business is all about.
Why are you involved in this line of business? That's the question the customers want to get answered to make sure that the answer is different from what your competitors are saying.

About the author

Stefan Ekberg has worked in marketing for small business for 20 years and has written around 30 books on how small business owners can market themselves with limited resources. . In 2012 Stefan was nominated as Entrepreneur of the Year in Stockholm.

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Every week some 230,000 prescribers gets his free newsletter about 5 minute marketing.

"The 5 minute marketer" - the book
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