Here are my Top 10 Tips for customer connection that adds profit with the customers you already have.
1) VIP Programs
Not all customers are created equal. In fact, most businesses make 80% of their revenue from just 20% of their customers. To encourage your best customers to come back often and spend like crazy, create a VIP program. Focus on those best customers. Find out what they love and deliver it. My client in Fort Collins, Colorado recently introduced me to the locals at Nuance Chocolate. The store’s CHOCOHOLIC LICENSE offers benefits such as early-bird notifications, invitations to exclusive events, opportunities to participate in tasting panels, special discounts & deals and more. VIP programs are just one sweet way to engage your best customers.
2) Social Proof
Got credentials? Shout ‘em out by putting your social proof front and center. Nothing validates your bone fides like other people’s stamp of approval. Social proof can be anything. A professional certification. Media mentions. Participation in trusted organizations like the Better Business Bureau or Chambers of Commerce or Trade Associations. I flash my media mentions right on the homepage of Your Iconic Brand because they scream “trustworthy” without me having to say a word. Studies have shown that social proof is an effective strategy for getting folks to listen.
3) Case Studies
When your clients love you, don’t keep it to yourself! Case studies and other testimonials are real-life stories that show exactly how customers or clients have been enhanced by working with you. No matter what kind of work you do, no matter how you make money – prospective customers want to know that other folks have had success with your business. Put case studies on your website. Share them via social media. Share them with your email list. Make a video. When your customers win, so do you.
4) Celebrate Referrals
What happens when a customer refers a new client? Too often, the answer is…nothing. Or maybe you remember to say thanks the next time you see the referrer. Without a system for appreciating referrals, it’s too easy to miss the moment. Forgetting to appreciate a customer who sends business your way is insulting. Worse? It’s bad business. If someone cares about you enough to make an effort to send you a customer, whoop it up! Make it a big deal! Find a way to make it special for the referrer AND the new customer in a way that’s uniquely YOU.
Mom told you to say thank you. When it comes to customers, that’s good advice. “But wait,” you may be thinking, “I’m already overwhelmed! I don’t have time to do some personalized thank you outreach to my customers.” Maybe that’s true, but what’s that position costing you? Your most valuable customers are the loyalists who come back again and again. If you can lower your customer churn by as little as 5% you can increase profitability anywhere from 25% to 100%! Big numbers. So say thank you. And please. And, for pete’s sake, get your hair out of your eyes. (Oh, whoops – that last one was a childhood flashback. Don’t mind me.)
6) Upgrades, Not Discounts
Every day my email inbox is flooded with discount offers. 10% off. 25% off. 40% off! They all run together in a mishmash. Not all businesses send discount offers to the masses, but many (if not most) DO use some types of discounting strategies. Instead, focus on finding the upgrades your best customers will find compelling, and offer those instead. Cosmetic counters master this approach with their “gift with purchase” and free makeover offers. What can you offer customers that’s inexpensive for you yet valued by them?
At a restaurant, if a waiter brings mints along with the check, tips go up by 3%. Let’s say a waitress brings two mints and points them out. (“Would anyone like some mints before they leave?”). Her tips increase by 14%. Finally, waiters/waitresses bring mints along with the check. Then, they circle back with ANOTHER set of mints, being clear that they were bringing extras for the table in case they wanted some more. Their tips? A whopping 23% higher than wait staff that didn’t bring mints at all. The moral of the story? It’s personal. When the waiters and waitresses were specific that they were considering the needs of their patrons, tips went up. Drastically. It’s not the mints that matter – it’s how they were presented.
8) Email That Doesn’t Suck
Almost universally, when I talk to my clients about their customer-facing emails, they say some version of the same thing. “I don’t want to be another company pestering my customers and cluttering their inbox.” My response is also consistent. I say, “Cool! Don’t be.” Here’s the deal – you have information of value to share with your customers. You have secret sauce. Your customers need the products and services you provide – and there’s information that goes along with those products and services you can share via your emails. On behalf of all people with an over-cluttered email inbox, I beg you! If you’re going to email, make each one your BEST:
CLICK HERE to get more details about writing the BEST emails.
9) Stop Selling
The other side of making emails your BEST is to focus on solving customers’ problems instead of selling them your stuff. Too often, emails are all salesy, all the time. And sure, you’re sending the email in order to sell stuff…but without cultivating a relationship with customers so that they know, like and trust you they aren’t going to be excited about buying from you. The way to build revenue is to build relationships. And that means focusing on the long haul over the short win. When you stop selling and build the relationship, you create a foundation for a long and profitable future.
If you stand for everything, you stand for nothing. What you need is a clear, easily articulated and understood purpose to set you apart from everyone else. Your purpose isn’t some fancy-dancy byproduct of a company boondoggle in the mountains (although, let’s face it, those are fun). A true Purpose is knit into everything you do in your company. Everything you stand for. It matters. And it’s part of the culture at every level of your company – from unpaid intern to top dog. Build your foundation of true purpose and you’ll create long-term, highly profitable customers and a healthy, flourishing business.