Last week we talked about living in constant fear of losing your customers. About having a relationship with your customers that is so flimsy that one price cut will take them away from you. Now while this is true, customers can be fickle, especially in the first months of doing business, but in the end we also have customers we have grown so close to that we will have had them for years and the odds are with us that we will have them long into the future….that is unless they are bought, merge with someone else, go out of business, or hire new decision makers who have their own long standing relationship with someone who is not you. These are all part of doing business. These are the challenges that we all face, and we will never be able to meet all of these challenges. But what we can do is to make sure that we provide service that is so valuable that our customers (the ones who stay in business), will never want to leave us.
Our goal should be to make ourselves so valuable to our customers that when a new accountant shows up and says they are paying too much for your products the people who are actually using your products are so enamored with working with you that they tell the accountant to, “Shut up and mind his own business.” And then go on to list all of the reasons they will never move away from you!
I can tell you are skeptical; can tell you cannot even imagine having the kind of relationship with your customers that they will fight off anyone who wants them to find another supplier. Who will readily list all the things you do for them that they ‘cannot live without’.
Here are some of the extras, those special things you can do to make your customers feel special, so special that they will want to remain your loyal customers for life.
- When you get that first order. The leader of the company should reach out and call the person in charge at the new customer, introduce himself and let the customer know how happy they are to have their business. And then tell them to make sure to call him at any time for any issues they might have.
- An introductory package should be sent with the first order, welcoming them to the company and giving them a contact list of the key people in the company in case they should need to contact them.
- A dedication card or memo should be sent to the customers signed by all the key people in your company welcoming them to the company and letting them know that they appreciate their business so much that they have all signed this dedication card promising them the best service and product they have ever seen.
- When the first product ships, key people in your organization should contact their counterparts at the customers to make sure the product is perfect and ask what they can do in the future to make their product and services even better.
- After the customer has been established, after the first few shipments have been made the leader of the company should contact the customer’s leadership and ask to set up a Zoom or live meeting so that his team can meet the customer’s team and brainstorm how they can better service them. This one is extremely valuable as it will establish the foundation on which the future success of the customer-seller relationship will be based.
- From this meeting a bi-company committee should be formed. A committee that will meet regularly to discuss how the product, the service and the relationship can be steadily improved over time. This will cement that goal of creating a customer for life.
These are just a few of the things we can do to ensure we have customers for life. To ensure that we will be our customers truly favored vendor, both today and in the future.
And you know what is the best thing about all this? No one wants to do it. I have pitched this exact same plan to client after client and not one of them has wanted to do these things. Not one of them has taken me up on this. It’s not that they think these are bad ideas, in fact, most of them have told me that they are very good ideas, and that yes, they might try them but in the end they don’t
I am not sure why exactly, but I have my suspicions, the most obvious one being that the plan asks that the leader of the company or the division personally call each and every customer and establish a strong person to person relationship. And that for some reason is where the plan falters. For some reason company leaders are the ones who do not want to “reach out and touch someone” and that’s where this plan fails, because like all good plans, to work properly, it has to start at the top. It’s only common sense.