Keeping the Customer #1: Call Your Customer Every Day
Phyllis Sheerin Ross, a business and management consultant with over 20 years experience, writes about the importance of partnering in her article How to Keep Your Customer Forever. It can be as simple as consistently making a a simple phone call...every day:
"Call your customer every day. Call your customer every morning at the same time. Call to say hello. Call to check in. Ask how things are going. Ask if there's anything you can help him with today. Ask him what's new on his site. Share news from your site. Talk together. It's even okay to laugh together! Remember this is your partner. I made daily morning phone calls to customers on the West Coast, as well as to customers who worked around the corner. I found that the daily phone calls provided the perfect mechanism to head off any potential problems. When you speak to your customers every day, there are no unpleasant surprises awaiting you at the end of the work week."
Keeping the Customer #2: Share The Knowledge
Phyllis Sheerin Ross writes that part of the process of keeping your customer consists of simply sharing what you know:
"Share the knowledge. Once you've done your homework, and have found out what your customer needs in order to be successful, be on the lookout for articles of interest. Read the business section of the newspaper everyday with your customer in mind. Learn everything you can about your customers' business. Team with other vendors to do presentations for him. For example, in the technology industry, Year 2000 information is hot, hot, hot! There's lots of information on the Web regarding Year 2000. Dazzle your customer with your knowledge of his industry."
Keeping the Customer #3: Only Quality Stuff!
Phyllis Sheerin Ross writes about the importance of only doing the best for your customer:
"Do only quality stuff. Everything that you present to your customer needs to be first class. Your customer's first impression of your work starts with your business card and the message on your answering machine. Do these items represent the true quality of your work? I remember walking away from a strategic alliance because my future teaming partner proudly presented me with a document that had typos all over the front page! Your customer should never have to correct your work. As a partner to your customer you need to ensure that your work is always on time, and within budget. And make sure that it's perfect. Your customer will learn very quickly that his "partner" has the same high standards that he does."
Keeping the Customer #4: Give Something Away!
Phyllis Sheerin Ross writes that the practice of "giving before you get" never goes out of style:
"Give something away. One of the most successful business people I know hand delivers home-baked cookies, beautifully presented, to her customers every Christmas. I've given software to my customers, as well as performed small services that were not written into the contract. Small gestures can grow into significant add-on business! It's not unusual to have contracts extended for an additional five years (at higher rates!) when you consistently demonstrate your generosity to the customer. I promise that you will always receive far more than you give away. It's a time-proven business practice that never goes out of style."