Customers For Life

If you believe that keeping customers for life (ala Sewell Automotive Group) is terribly overrated then you should probably stop reading now. Well, maybe not yet. Customers for life…that’s a long time! Is it just a pipe dream or can it actually be a reality for some customers and their vendors?

We all know, even if we have never measured it, that keeping a customer is much less expensive than obtaining a new one. It actually has been measured by some world-class organizations and the results are in. It costs eight times more to bring in a new customer than it does to retain a customer. Astounding! What is astounding is how often companies NEED to replace customers lost through attrition. The “churn” as it is often referred to is a serious problem in almost every organization. Churn is good if you produce butter, but not if you are trying to keep your customer retention and acquisition costs down.

Let’s take a look at some of the key building blocks that will help you increase sales, reduce your costs, and logically provide you with a healthy increase in your profitability.

Trust –Trust is probably the most important quality in any relationship.  A customer or client relationship is no exception. Think about it…when there is a lack of trust, do you reach into your wallet to buy from that person or organization? The answer is a resounding “No!” In a new relationship, trust is built one “trust card” at a time. You don’t get the whole deck of trust cards dropped on you at once nor can you expect that someone is going to trust you after an initial meeting. So when you are building trust, don’t rush it. Do the right thing with each encounter. Now that doesn’t mean that building trust needs to take decades of work, but it does mean that you need to do more than just build trust over time. Share past experiences, references, and examples of the results that you have brought to others. It is really quite simple, “do unto others as you would want them to do unto you.” 

Consistency – Doing the job right the first time and every time takes more than good looks and smiles. You need to develop repeatable processes that support your customer-focused goals. If you travel a great deal for business you know first-hand about consistency. Ever been hungry in a town that you’ve never been in before? It takes more courage than most road warriors have to venture into a restaurant that is unfamiliar. But a national or international chain takes most of the risk out of the decision. Try to find inconsistencies in a McDonalds' restaurant almost anywhere in the US and you’ll be searching for a long time to come. It may not be the most memorable burger you’ve ever had, but you’ll not be surprised by the taste or quality. They are famous for their processes that produce consistent product and customer experiences in all of their stores. Develop solid processes and you will be on your way to winning customers for life.

Love – We know that this is throwing some of you for a loop. That’s OK. Your listening now, aren’t you? We could write for days about love and how it can have a profound effect on your business, but we’ll just cover the subject in a few sentences today. Have you ever walked into a place of business and felt how much everyone loved being there? One such place is Pike Place Fish Market in Seattle. If you’ve never heard of the place, we suggest you fly out there right now…well, you should! But maybe just heading to their web site will be enough. Check them out at www.pikeplacefish.com. Love what you do, what you sell, the services that you offer, and most importantly, love your customers!! It truly can be felt by others and will have a positive effect on the results that you achieve. Just don’t fake it…you’ll be found out and the consequences could be disastrous.  

Uniqueness – There have been a number of books written about this quality. The most famous of these books (in our minds) is Tom Peters’ The Circle of Innovation. Be different. Find your differentiating qualities. What can help you in defining your differentiating qualities is finding out why people want to do business with you and not your competitors. You should use this information to your advantage. Find what makes you unique and market it. Don’t conform to standards, unless of course it is the law. No need to go to jail proving how unique you are!

Relationships – Remember when you were in college…relationships were tough. Well, they still are, but in a different way. Relationships that are worth their salt rely on effort from all parties. This can not be a one-way street…it just won’t work. The substance of a strong relationship is made up of love, trust, honesty, among others and it’s all held together by effort. Building and maintaining solid relationships is work - hard work. The hard work pays off time and again with loyalty, respect, trust, and growth. One of the keys to building strong relationships is to give unconditionally. Following the “Pay It Forward” model almost always builds meaningful relationships. There is a book that we recommend that focuses on how to use the “Pay It Forward” model in everything that you do and especially in building relationships. It is The Heart and Art of Netweaving by Bob Littell. Bob has developed a networking concept built on the pay it forward model and not only does it work, but Bob lives his model every day. Check him out at www.netweaving.com.

Memorable – Being memorable doesn’t have to be due to the fact that you were wearing a clown suit at a golf outing. It should be based on many of the building blocks that we have discussed here today. People remember those that have helped them in the past, delivered what they said they would deliver, built a trusting relationship, etc. Sorry, there will be no lightning bolt that will strike when you become memorable. Actually, you may not even notice anything different, which is a good thing. Becoming memorable will just happen. It means that you have been and are continuing to do the right things to keep customers for life.

If you would like to talk further about how to build an organization that is focused on keeping customers for life, please feel free to contact us and one of our team members will schedule time to meet with you. Make this year your best year ever.