We’ve all heard this saying… the customer is always right. While at times it may literally be true, in reality it is always true. Customers are the lifeblood of a small business. Many businesses in fact need all of their customers to meet their financial obligations. One lost customer can spell disaster, so keeping your customers happy is not just fancy rhetoric, but a business truism.
One thing that most small business owners understand – or at least learn along the way – is that the ball really is in their court. While larger businesses can dictate terms and conditions to certain customers, small businesses can’t. If you can’t deliver what they want when they want it, they can and sometimes do find another company that can.
There are, however, some things that you can do to keep your customers happy and being a small business can actually act in your favor. Here are five easy things that you can do to help improve customer retention:
- Respond to customer emails right away. You may not have an answer or solution to whatever it is they’re emailing about, but respond nonetheless. Let them know you got the email and that you’re looking into their inquiry. This makes them feel important, and well… they are!
- The ‘Golden Rule’ works in business too. Never do to your customers what you wouldn’t want a business doing to you. If you live by this rule outside of the workplace (and you probably should) then bring it to work with you and try it on. It works!
- Don’t nickel and dime. If you have an opportunity to give a little bit of your time (or product) away to make your customers happy, do so. It likely won’t be a big deal to you cost-wise, but your customer will be grateful. And, they tend to remember these little favors when competition comes calling or there’s a little snafu that occurs.
- Own up to mistakes. Snafus do happen; it’s inevitable and part of business. The worst thing you can do, however, is pretend it didn’t happen or even worse, blame your customer. Admit your mistake as soon as it surfaces (or better yet before they even notice) and let them know your plan for rectifying the situation. They’ll appreciate your integrity!
- Don’t forget to thank them. People like to feel valued, so small tokens of appreciation will go a long way with your customers. Always make sure to thank them for their business. Consider sending an email or a thank you card for anniversaries. Send a small gift during the holidays. Your customers will feel appreciated, and will most likely continue to come back.
So the customer is always right. Undoubtedly you’re a customer to another company and that’s the way you like it too. So keep your cool, remember your options, and put your customers on a pedestal. They’ll thank you for it!