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Keep your customers for life

| Business tips | November 20, 2012

Make your competitors irrelevant by winning your customers’ lifelong loyalty.

Organisations spend a lot of resources on advertising and promotions to attract new customers. Even as they successfully do this, they may be losing their existing customers. So organisations need to pay attention to both winning customers and retaining them.

When we discuss the notion of “creating customers”, we have to start with Peter Drucker, who said it best when he stated that their is only one valid definition of a business purposes: To create a customer.

Companines are defined by the customers they create. And customers are created when they are satisfied with the product or the service. Customer satisfaction is the key to customer creation.

“Creating customers” is a strategic process. Many books have been written about customer relationship management (CRM), customer lifetime value (CLV) metrics, cuatomer orientation, and so on.

One of the most basic approaches to customer creation is the old-fashioned one: Satisfied Customers influence others to buy your product or service.

In your own experience, don’t you ask a friend, relative or colleague about the quality of a product or service – It could be a new restaurant, travel destination, renovation contractor, dentist or face cream – before committing to buy it?

Recommendations are a powerful tool to create new customers. Organisations must seriously consider their existing customers as their allies in helping to create new wants Sometimes, your satisfied customers do not even need any incentive to recommend your product to others. Just knowing that the recommendation has made someone else happy is a reward in itself!

Organisations are wise to use complaints to generate new ideas and ways to improve their product or service. Always be appreciative of the fact that customers take great effort to write, call or to come in person to make a complaint. They are probably so upset that they will make an effort to do so.

Organisations should therefore take every complaints seriously, ensuring that they never have to deal with the same complaints twice. Use the same approach for customer’s compliments too, using these as a point of reinforcement for what your organisation is doing right.

Conventionally, customer retention is defined as the number of customers doing business with an organisation on a continuous basis over the long-term. High retention is equivalent to low defection.

Organisations should conduct regular surveys to ask customers what aspects of their products or services they are happy or dissatisfied with. This can be done through an online survey, a phone call, in person or via e-mail. One of the best way is to conduct focus group interviews. Loyalty programmes too are extremely effective.

When organisations provide solutions to customers’ need and offer good value, customers will be motivated to be loyal. The whole idea of customer retention is to make your customers fans of your organisation. Give them a memorable service experience each and every time and you will have them as your customers for life!

Make an effort to know your customers – their special needs and preferences. Know their names, their favourite colours, their special requests, their birthdays and anything that will demonstrate that you do not just see them as a customer, but a friend! This intimacy must be cultivated over time. It takes a special effort, but it is worth it!

Organisations should ensure that all their employees have the skills to handle both internal and external customers. Employees must be made to understand that in the midst of technological advances in reaching out to customers, the high-tech approach is still inferior to high-touch approach!

Article by: Jeffrey Goh, management trainer

Comments Off on Make Networking Work

Make Networking Work

| Business tips | November 6, 2012

Imagine this……You just arrive at a conference as a representative of your company.  After registering and putting up a sticker with your name and company in your chest, you enter a hall full of people, where coffee and tea are available until the event starts.

If you are like most people, you would probably  feel uncomfortable and anxious.  You don’t like being on your own, but you also do not know how to strike up a conversation with a stranger.

But if you go to an event just to keep to yourself and gain information from the speakers, you will miss many opportunities that come from chatting an networking with other delegates.  Many people struggles to have a truly engaged conversation.  They are so anxious about how they feel that they can hardly listen to what other person is saying.  No common ground is found; no benefit is derived.

Below is some tips on starting and developing conversations and turning these into connections:

1) Say Anything

Yes…Start with anything.  Most people avoid starting a conversation because they are not sure where to begin.  Think about it, does it really matter? If you know that it is almost 100% sure that another person standing alone will be relived that you have started talking to them, then it does not matter if you start with “How are you today?” or “Have you been to one of these conferences before?” or “Do you mind if I ask where you got that bag?”

2) Let your brain do what it does best

Our brains work by association.  When you feed it with some information, it links that information to information it already has.  If you pay attention to what your brain is doing, you will be able to think of what to say next.

If you don’t pay attention, the conversation could go like this:

You:” Hi, Have you been to one of these conferences before?”

Them: “No.”

And then it could crash and burn.  But if you are listening to your brain go through the various implications of what this “No” could means, you will know what to do, and you have a lot of options.  You could say, “Me, nether. I am quite excited about hearing Dr.XYZ speak on the cosmetics market.  How about you?”  At this point, they are unlikely to say “no” again.  They will tell you what they are interested in, and you can take it from there.

3) Keep asking questions; Keep associating

This is the biggest, most powerful key to making connections and building connections.  To reiterate, keep asking questions and keep associating.

This is a major component of active listening, which involves showing your engagement in the conversation.  Beyond relevant questions, active listening involves using your face and voice to encourage the speaker.  Smile, nod and say things like “I see”, “Oh really?” or “How Interesting”.  It will help them to feel comfortable opening up.

For example, if the speaker says,” I am here to participate in the discussion about animal testing”, you can keep the conversation going  by thinking for a moment, letting your brain make some associations and the say:” I see, Are you a scientist yourself?” or “Do you have a strong position on that topic?” or “That’s interesting.  I haven’t heard much about this debate lately.  Can you update me in what’s happening?”

If you do this with body language, it says you are happy to be talking with them and are likely to end up in a deeper conversation that can add some real value for you.

4) Paraphrase

Paraphrasing achieves many goals at once.  It means putting what someone has say into your own words.  It does not mean talking over the conversation, but rather testing your understanding and actively showing you are trying to relate to them.

It is another way to help someone open up. It also gives you the time and information you need to make associations and come up with some comments yourself.  Useful introductions to paraphrasing include:

“so are you saying that…”

“Does this mean that you feel…”

“If I understand you correctly, this means that…”

Even though all these questions can simply be answered with “Yes” and “No,” people don’t usually do that.  They clarify.  They develop what they are saying further.  You can the offer your own comments on the topic and the conversation will get richer.

As the Chinese say, “In any three people I will find my teacher.”  Anyone can offer you information, guidance, wisdom and opportunity.  It is impossible to know what who these people will be until you start asking questions.

  • Make Networking Work

    by on November 6, 2012 - 0 Comments

    Imagine this......You just arrive at a conference as a representative of your company.  After registering and putting up a sticker with your name and company in...

  • Keep your customers for life

    by on November 20, 2012 - 0 Comments

    Make your competitors irrelevant by winning your customers' lifelong loyalty. Organisations spend a lot of resources on advertising and promotions to attract...