What Can I do to make you love me?
Or, more importantly, what can I do to make you love my business?
It’s that time of year when love is in the air, cupid is sharpening his arrows, and Rose prices are hiked up beyond recognition in readiness for St Valentine’s Day. Traditionally, we will all be declaring our love and affection to those nearest and dearest – but does that apply to our commercial partners?
I was always told that “people do business with people they like”, and to a certain extent I believe that this is true. I am sure that we all have our favourite customers – sometimes because of the amount of business they do with us but, more likely, because of the way they do business with us. So, what do the people that do business with you think of you? Are they just casual acquaintances or long term lovers? How can you turn your one night stands into something more permanent and rewarding?
Deliver great service and you are well on your way to satisfying your customer – they will ‘like’ you, or the service/product that you are providing. They will tell others, if prompted, that you are ‘good’ to do business with, that everything was ‘okay’. But that’s not love is it? How can you make these customers eager to come back for more and become advocates of your business?
Build a relationship surely? Sounds easy enough, but much more difficult to achieve. This is a longer term strategy – get to know your customer and let him/her get to know you; give something of yourself; ask about them and their business, rather than try purely to sell your own. Whenever I see people on television who have been married forever and a day they all have similar words of advice – tolerance, compromise and understanding. Now that is incredibly difficult, as the divorce statistics will support!
So, having built a relationship and a greater understanding of your customers, how do you make it last? How do you breed loyalty and stop them being tempted by the many suitors that will try to take them away every day? Having built the relationship, don’t take it for granted. Be consistent in what you offer in terms of service, keep talking (and listening) and make sure that the solutions you offer are relevant, but also be prepared to surprise your customers from time to time.
These are just a few of my thoughts about getting your customers to love you and hopefully you have a few of your own because, whether you are a romantic or not, I am sure that in these difficult times it is common sense that keeping our existing customers is a much easier option than finding new ones.
And finally. The great thing about Business relationship is that they are not monogamous, so we all get to have a different lover many times a day. Enjoy!!
Bob Shimmon, Business Loans Manager Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Hertfordshire