by Dr. Jeffrey Lant
The key to increasing your business profits is to
get your existing customers to buy more faster. The
key to this is simple: Make SURE what you do is
fostering this vital relationship… not killing it.
Once Upon A Time…
The other day, I called what its owners think of
as Boston’s “premier” silver business. You know the
kind: in business since “my grandfather served your
grandfather,” all simpering, condescending, and
(fatal) above the doing of “business”. Their motto:
“Business is inherited, never earned”, a tried and
true prescription for dwindling profits… and
ultimately a “business to let” sign in the window.
Lucky for you this owner’s self-defeating behavior
inspired this article. As a result, even though the
folks who inspired this article may not be saved…
you will be!
1) Be personable and enthusiastic when you
speak with your customers
Is this “elementary, my dear Watson,” as Sherlock
Holmes would have said? Absolutely not. Instead of
presenting a bright, chipper persona, too many
business owners and their representatives appear
above your mere business, which they approach
with disinterest, disdain, even dismissal. What’s worse,
the higher you go in the hierarchy, the more of this you
may see — and hear.
Your job, however exalted, is to give the customer
a comfortable and serene experience. Your business
is never merely about what you do; it’s always about
how you do it, including the tone and temperament
with which you approach each customer… the
necessity to be pleasant even if you don’t feel like it.
2) Return Phone Calls
There is nothing that so infuriates customers
(and rightly so) as failure to return calls in a
prompt, professional manner.
In this scenario, the customer calls and
leaves a detailed message which is then..,
ignored. Result? With every passing moment, the
customer gets more and more indignant… while
your chances of repeat business melt.
Cure: return EVERY pending call before the
end of business EACH DAY. If necessary, put a
note on your computer: “I cannot leave until every
customer call has been returned.” There would be
a lot less (justifiable) indignation all round if this
was the rule. Make it yours!
3) Keep The Customer Updated
Rome wasn’t built in a day… but I bet Caesar
Augustus was regularly updated on progress. If
it was good enough for the Caesars, it ought
to be good enough for you.
Thus, instead of making your customers chase
you down for (usually rushed and inadequate)
progress reports, be pro-active. Before you leave
your office EVERY DAY, call or e-mail reports.
These should include commentary on the most
important pending items, especially those which
may be most troubling and of greatest interest to
the customer. Doing things this way, providing
reports when least expected, make you the kind of
business person people most like to work with.
4) Live Within The Budget — Or Promptly
Explain Why You Can’t
Want a sure-fire, unbeatable way to kill even
the longest standing customer relationship?
Then over spend a budget… and don’t bother
to tell your customer beforehand, much less
explain matters clearly.
Everyone is touchy about money. No one
ever has enough. Thus, keeping your customer
scrupulously up-to-date on financial issues,
especially where increased expenditure is
necessary is vital. As soon as you have the
facts, inform the customer. Where the sum in
question is significant, call; otherwise, a prompt
email will do.
The point is: it is the customer’s right to have
this information in a timely fashion. And it is
your responsibility to provide it… or else!
5) Thank Early, Sincerely, Tangibly
Have you ever watched the way some business
people “thank” their customers for their life-(and profit) —
making business? No eye contact, perfunctory words,
a palpable wish to get it over — and you out — ASAP.
Maybe this customer was difficult; maybe you’re
just having one of those days when the milk of
human kindness turns sour. Even so, you owe it both
to customer and your prosperity to thank her
properly. If you can do it with true sincerity so much
the better; if not, simulate until you can.
More, whenever possible give your all-important
customer a “little something” extra, the more so if
you have not followed the crucial steps above.
People like bonuses. Add one whenever you can.
We all want repeat business. It’s the life blood of
business success. Many people wrongly think that
all you have to do to get it is be good at what you
do. WRONG! You must attend to the “little things”,
the things I’ve discussed in this article. After all,
as the song says “little things mean a lot.” Your
customer must always be treated with the greatest
possible care and consideration. Empathy is
… which is why I decided to pass on taking my
business to the silver smith mentioned above. He
didn’t earn it.
About The Author
Harvard-educated Dr. Jeffrey Lant is CEO of
Worldprofit, Inc., www.worldprofit.com where
small and home-based businesses learn how to
profit online. Attend Dr. Lant’s live webcast
TODAY and receive 50,000 free guaranteed
visitors to the website of your choice! For details
on Dr. Lant’s 18 best-selling business books,
go to www.jeffreylant.com