Getting new customers is important — but so is holding onto the customers you already have. Don’t worry. Building a loyal customer base takes work, but it’s work you’re more than qualified to do. All it takes is a little creativity and a personal touch. Here are nine easy (and inexpensive) ways to turn new contacts into lifelong customers.
1. Listen to what they’re telling you about their project.
The most important thing you can do for a customer is truly listen when they’re speaking. There’s no other way to know what they want — and everybody wants to feel like they’re being heard. So be accessible. Make it easy for customers to contact you and remove any distractions that would get in the way of you hearing what they’re telling you.
Make eye contact when you meet in person. Ask questions. And be sure to relay back what you heard, not only so they know you were listening, but so you can be certain you fully understand their point. All customer feedback is useful, so even if someone is telling you something that is hard to hear, remember that knowledge is power and it’s crucial for your business success.
2. Take a personal interest in your customer.
Showing interest in your customer makes your interaction feel like more than just a business exchange. Make notes about their name and any conversation you had while on the job — even make note of their birthday. If someone tells you that their son is starting a new job, ask how he likes it the next time you see them. Don’t go beyond the bounds of what you’re comfortable with, of course, but make an extra effort to be friendly. Your customer will remember.
3. Respond to feedback — good and bad.
Monitor all of the places online where your customers give feedback: Thumbtack, review sites, social media, etc. If your customer says something nice, thank them. If they had a bad experience, apologize and find out what you can do to make things right. Responding to their feedback shows customers you’re listening and that their opinion is important to you.
4. Recognize your customers on social media.
Social media is a source of free marketing for your business, so make sure you’re on the sites your customers use most. If it makes sense for your business, give your customers shout outs. Share a photo of a finished job with a note about how much you enjoyed working with them. Post a quote of a review and thank the person who left it. Celebrate a milestone your client has achieved. Be sure to always tag the customer, and never post a photo of something personal or private without explicit permission. Also, when a customer follows you on social media, always follow them back to show you’re interested in what they’re sharing as well.
5. ★ Pro tip: “I say, send me all of your ideas, show me everything.”
Top Pro wedding coordinator Mary K. Mitchell says, “You have to pay attention to what customers say they want and be ready to do the outreach. All people want is to have someone hear them. That’s it. I let them talk. I say send me all of your ideas, send me your Pinterest page, show me everything. They talk to me and I understand what they want so I can bring it to life.”
“The other thing is clarity. I’m very open with customers from the beginning — nothing is hidden or confused. I tell them how my process works and write a memorandum of understanding with all my prices and services laid out clearly.”
6. If they have one, support their small business too.
If your customer has a small business of their own, see what you can do to support it. Buy their products or services, and encourage others to do the same. Referrals are a great way to grow your client base and if your customer sees you doing work for them, they’re likely to reciprocate.
7. It’s simple: always say “please” and “thank you.”
We were all raised to use the magic word when asking for something and to say “thank you” in return. But despite that training, many adults have let that common courtesy slip away. Don’t let yourself or your business be one of them. In truth, “please” and “thank you” still go a long way in making people feel appreciated and respected, and it’s the fastest, most affordable marketing you can do — being genuine.
8. Go above and beyond what the job calls for.
Cleaning up the sidewalk. Dusting the blinds. Offering free advice. These are small things that make a huge impact on your customers’ experience. As a rule, over delivering on your services (even if you aren’t providing an extra service for free) shows your customer that you value their business which, in turn, creates loyalty. Whether it’s an extra 20 minutes of labor or a follow-up call, going the extra mile will make your business stand out in your customer’s mind.
Note: If you have more than one employee, teach them to take the same approach to doing the job. Your employees are your biggest ambassadors, so make sure they’re trained to practice your company values on every job.
9. Write a thank you note. (Really. It’s not cheesy.)
It might seem over the top, but remember that we live in a world where most interactions happen online. Sending your customer a real-world reminder of the work you’ve done together — handwritten on nice stationery — is an easy, low tech way of showing your customer you care. It’s also a physical reminder of your service, one they might see every day on the coffee table, making it equal parts thoughtful token and subliminal marketing. It’s the easiest thing in the world to do, just go out and buy a package of cards.
For more tips, check out What Customers Really Want: 4 Secrets to Getting Hired on Thumbtack.