Do Your Customers Come Back for More and Help You Spread the Word? There are few better ways to learn about a new product or service than from a first- hand report from someone who has already tried it, someone whose opinion you trust and respect. Word-of-mouth referrals are particularly important for small business owners, who may not have the resources or expertise for glitzy ad campaigns. However, do not count on getting any new work through referrals unless you treat your current customers’ right. The little details make the difference between a rave review and a ho-hum endorsement. Are you doing everything you can to focus on your customers and earn those all-important referrals? Find out by taking this quick quiz. 1) Do you track your regular customers’ product/service needs, busy periods and buying history? Yes No 2) If you are unable to help a customer with a particular problem or need, do you refer him/her to someone else who can? Yes No 3) If it’s possible, do you provide customers with volume discounts, or do small jobs for free/reduced prices? Yes No 4) Do you regularly ask your customers to evaluate the quality of your work, responsiveness and overall service? Yes No 5) Do you respond promptly to customer phone calls and emails, even if you’re extremely busy? Yes No Do Your Customers Come Back for More and Help You Spread the Word? Did you answer mostly YES? Most likely, you didn’t complete this quiz at once. You were attending to a steady stream of customer requests. Though you likely have a thriving, and growing, customer base, you can’t afford to take them for granted. Keep doing what you’re doing, but do more of it if possible. Go over everything you know about your customers, past projects, buying cycles, issues and concerns affecting their business or community and look for trends that may affect what they’ll need down the road. If there are any clear indications of change, get together with your customers and help them plan accordingly. They’ll be amazed at how well you anticipated their needs, and will share their good fortune with their colleagues. Of course, there is a price for doing this--less free time to surf the Internet! Did you answer mostly NO? It’s probably no mystery why you find yourself with a lot of time on your hands. Hopefully, you’re not counting on repeat business to stay afloat. You’re not alone, however. Even large, highly successful companies sometimes take customers for granted. Why not do a little role-playing? Pretend you are a potential customer and list all the factors you’d use to make a buying decision--service, quality, responsiveness, etc. Also think back on the ”little things” that other types of businesses have done for you to alleviate a crisis or brighten up an otherwise lousy day. Compare them with your current practices and identify areas where you can polish up your image. The changes will likely make an immediate impression on your customers--provided you still have some. SCORE “Mentors to America’s Small Business” is your small business resource. Ask SCORE today, and take advantage of this free, professional resource that matches aspiring business owners with skilled, experienced mentors.
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