This insightful article is from our Premiere Sponsor, Sequoia Legal Marketing, who develop and market search-engine friendly websites for the highly competitive legal industry.
Getting your first client will seem like the hardest challenge when starting a new business. By the time you launch your business, you should already have the word out among family and friends to let them
know you will be looking for new clients. Don’t just ‘hint’ that you want clients – ask for a referral! Consider writing a letter or hosting a dinner or cocktail party for your friends and neighbors. Let them know what service or product you offer and consider giving a “friends and family” discount to those who refer you new clients and for the new clients themselves. Customers who are likely to buy your product or service will undoubtedly at least try your business if they have a financial incentive to do so.
When you are servicing your first clients, remember that each relationship you build will bring you more business. Let your customers know that you appreciate their business. If a client offers you a compliment on your start-up, say “thank you, I hope you’ll let your friends know you enjoyed your service here.” By planting this seed, people are more likely to remember your business the next time a friend asks for a recommendation on a great new restaurant or for low-priced printing services.
By continually going above and beyond for your clients, you will keep them coming back – and a returning customer is much cheaper than always looking for new clients. Here are some tips for helping your start-up stand out from your competition;
- Remember and use your customers’ name in person and on the telephone.
- Surprise a repeat customer once in a while with a small “free-be,” such as a free drink (for the restaurateur), a few extra prints (for a
photo printing shop) or a basket of annuals (for your regular landscaping client).
- Send personalized holiday cards, perhaps even a gift basket to your top clients.
- Ask your customers how you can improve. Don’t waste their time with a survey – Ask them on the way out of your shop and in person if
they have found everything they needed and let them know you welcome their feedback.
- Educate your consumer. If your product is more expensive than your competition, make sure each potential buyer knows why yours is worth
more. Is there a warranty? Is it made in the USA? Is it of a better quality? Don’t expect your buyer to understand or know why one product
or service is superior.
“A happy customer tells one friend, an unhappy customer tells everybody”
Take customer service seriously, all the time. If a customer is unhappy, don’t expect your hourly employees to care enough to retain that customer; handle the situation yourself and make sure they walk away happy. In some cases, this means taking a financial loss. If an appliance wasn’t installed properly – get it done right. They might not return to you in the future, but it is much less likely they will tell anyone NOT to consider your service.
Here’s one woman’s story of great customer service at the apple store ; Long story short, they took her laptop in for repair and she was told it would be ready in 5-7 days. When she called back to check in after 7 days, they found the laptop still hadn’t even been shipped out. To both parties dismay, it would be over 2 weeks before the laptop could be serviced and returned. The store GAVE the woman a brand new laptop and a heartfelt apology. Not only did Apple retain a customer for life, they also received an amazing amount of PR for the stunt (Yahoo! shows over 4,000 links to her story on the incident).
If you have or plan to have employees at your new business, make sure to carefully instruct them on how to prevent and deal with customer complaints and how to retain clients. In today’s society of automated answering centers and online shopping, you can bet that building a relationship with your client is more important than ever.
- Drive Your Business Success with Referrals (customerthink.com)
- Do you have clients – or customers? (raptureinvenice.com)
- 3 Methods for Design Firms to Increase Customer Loyalty (xemion.com)
- What’s The “Problem” With Referral Selling? (customerthink.com)
- Your Brand Can’t Hide Behind Poor Service (blogs.forbes.com)
- How to Get More Customers from Referrals (managedifficultpeople.com)
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