VBM Pro | Virtual Business Manager

Did you know that companies spend as much as 70% of their marketing budget to attract new customers while 90% of their revenues come from current customers? And, that due to neglecting existing customers, companies experience a customer attrition rate of 10-30%?

Philip Kotler addressed these issues in his book, Marketing Insights from A to Z – 80 Concepts Every Manager Needs to Know, and it seemed like a perfect source for this blog where I’ll be focusing on customer relations. But instead of proposing that you invest millions of dollars in customer relations management systems (CRM systems) like big corporations do, I’ll offer you some tips that you can apply to your daily customer interaction.

Customer service is not just answering a phone, answering customer’s questions (preferable as personalized as possible) and trying to sell them as much as possible. It is an attitude that you and your company have towards the clients – existing, new, potential. Today, mom-and-pop shops that have been around for what it feels forever, and where they had a quite personal connection with their customers are more and more rare. Instead, we are dealing with online and automated systems, polite but unfriendly staff at local branches, etc.

As a solopreneur and a small business owner, you have an amazing opportunity to take advantage of your (personalized) relationship with your customers, and to take it to another level. I realize that your time is money and that during the hustle and bustle of your daily duties and responsibilities, the last thing you want to do is to write a note to your customer, or pick up the phone and spend 30 minutes talking to them about everything-but-business… But, as Kotler says, it pays off… Your budget doesn’t allow you to take your platinum customers to a customer-appreciation trip or to send them expensive gifts, etc. So, here are few small things you can do:

– When you or your employees are wrapping up a phone call that will need a follow-up, or signing of an email, tell your customer when and how you will follow up. You’ll be amazed at how appreciative your customers will be for taking this task off -their to-do list.

– If you know that your customer is working on some big project (finishing up a degree), just got a new job, is celebrating a birthday or expecting a baby, etc., send a card, a note, give him or her a call to congratulate, etc.

– If only your system supports this, keep a detailed database of your contacts; updated status of your clients and inquiries (current, previous, potential); when they first contacted you and who referred them. Also, if applicable, keep a record of conversations/correspondence. It will not only enable you a more personalized customer service but it will also help you analyze where your business is coming from, its trends, what is keeping inquiries from becoming clients, etc.

I would love to hear from you about what sets your customer relations apart from competitor. And, if your day simply doesn’t have enough hours, I’d also love to hear from you – I am sure there are tasks and projects that you can outsource so you can focus on what matters the most: your customers and your business growth.

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