How would you like to double the profits of your company? The truth is, it’s actually very simple — not easy, but it is pretty straightforward. To significantly increase the market share, revenues and profits of your business, the key is to turn your best customers into what I like to call “customer evangelists.” These are people who love your company, products and services so much that they enthusiastically tell their friends, family and colleagues that they ought to shop with you. Several different research projects clearly show that for most small businesses, as much as 78 percent of new customers come directly from word-of-mouth referrals, yet only about 22 percent of businesses have any kind of a process or program to turn regular customers into premium customer evangelists. Here are a few ideas for how to do this in your business.
- Be the best at what matters most. Figure out a handful of critical “moments of truth” that make or break the relationship with your customers, and then create the processes necessary to ensure that you flawlessly deliver these essential elements for every single customer, every single time. For most businesses, there are only three or four key things that must be perfect. For example, a dry cleaner must have your clothes ready on time, ensure that they are clean and not damaged and charge a reasonable price. As long as they do these three things consistently, they will stay in business — add in absolutely superior customer service and an exceedingly clean store, and they are on the way to building market share.
- Make it easy to do business with you. Have a great website, plenty of parking, offer free shipping, offer free advice, have a super easy return policy, keep convenient store hours … whatever you can do to make the total shopping, buying and owning experience wonderful.
- Connect with your customer. In every way possible, listen to your customers; try to understand their needs and wants, and work very hard at building a true “relationship.” This does not mean you have to become their best friend, but you do need to show genuine interest and concern for these very important people who pay all of your bills!
- Identify your ideal customers. Take a close look at your customer base and create a “profile” of your ideal customers: the ones who shop often, spend more than other customers, highly value your products and services and pay quickly. Let me make this clear: not all customers are equal — and you don’t want just any customers. If you’re going to build a customer loyalty program, you want to focus all of your efforts on finding lots and lots of “ideal” customers and let the difficult customers shop with your competitor!
- Build a reciprocal loyalty. Create both brand loyalty and customer loyalty by treating your best customers differently. Give them discounts or special offerings, call them by name, anticipate their needs or send them a hand written thank you note. After you have totally delighted them, ask that they please tell friends and family about your business. Give them more than they expect, and, then, ask for little in return.
I agree that it takes a little extra time to do the things I’ve recommended above, but here’s the payoff: a 5 percent increase in the number of customer evangelists for your business can drive as much as a 189 percent increase in your total profits! By creating a reciprocal relationship with your top customers — where you treat them special, and, in return, they become enthusiastic about referring other people to your business — you are building a strong competitive advantage that is very difficult to copy.