Having weeded out your worst customers and identified your best customers in Week 2, the next step in this “Double Your Sales” program is to reward them and focus on giving your customers the best experience possible. Now that you’re spending less time dealing with problem customers that create the most hassles for you and your staff, you’ll have more time and resources to spend on your best customers.
Build a Loyalty Ladder to Create “Raving Fans”
Loyal customers are ideal customers. Those loyalists who sometimes refer others to the business are even more valuable because they are active advocates. But the most prized clients and customers of all are those who become so energized about the level of service they receive that they cannot stop telling others about it. These “raving fans” are a golden asset and a tremendous source of new customers. If a business makes a concerted effort to identify loyal customers and then offer them such a high level of service that they become cheerleaders for the business, the investment pays off many times over by expanding the customer base with premium customers acquired via raving fans.
For a company to rise to this level of appeal requires an intentional effort to personalize each transaction and aspect of the customer service relationship. Rather than offering a preferred customer a standard discount coupon, for instance, a business owner might instead offer them tickets to a golf tournament or symphony, deliver flowers or a gift basket to them, or pamper them in other special and memorable ways. The investment in service should be calculated based on the value of the business that the raving fan brings to the company. Customer service is thus elevated to become an incentive and rewards program tailored to the individual client. When others who are advocates witness this kind of VIP treatment they will likewise become inspired to rave about the business in order to enjoy the exclusive benefits of this preferred customer relationship.
Create a Referral Program
Design a referral program that rewards customers for bringing others into the customer base. Referral rewards can be in the form of discounts, gifts, invitations to special events, or “closed door” sales events where only certain customers are invited to participate and take advantage of savings, exclusive products, or other preferred customer perks.
A referral program can borrow ideas and schemes from the raving fan concept, but will be executed in a simpler and more general fashion. Many customers have friends, coworkers, and family members who require the same products and services, so referral is a natural process of growing the customer base by using existing customers as a resource for community outreach.
Train and Support Employees to Improve their Skills
Valued employees are ones that business owners invest in to help them further their careers and skills by developing a sense of ownership and responsibility that can boost a business’ customer base dramatically. Employees come in contact with people every day, both inside the place of business and elsewhere. Someone might be a potential customer because they walk through the door, but it may take a certain level of professional skills to convert them into paying customers. Or an employee might attend a church or school where there are dozens of potential customers. By helping that employee learn the skills needed to promote the business to those contacts, it is possible to capture new customers. But employees need attention, guidance, training, education, and incentives.
They might profit from attending sales or marketing workshops, for instance. Wine reps for major wineries often travel to Europe to learn more about wines – at the company’s expense. Hair salons send stylists to conventions to learn new tricks of the trade. Construction companies send carpenters and electricians to night school to get advanced certifications. But these investments all pay off when those employees return and land lucrative new accounts, do a better job, or are able to charge customers a higher rate for more specialized service. Invest in those who are within the business, and the investment will pay off by bringing new customers from outside the business.
Improve the Conversion Rate for Leads and Contacts
Keeping tabs on leads or sending contacts costly mailings can be a drain, not an asset. As leads and contacts are made, they need to be converted as soon as possible into customers. Otherwise they can simply become a nuisance and a labor-intensive list of names. Once someone becomes a lukewarm lead, it is important to warm them up so that they become a hot prospect and then a loyal customer. When someone walks into a party and doesn’t know anyone, they are inclined to turn around and leave. But a good host or hostess knows how to spot them, introduce them, show them around, and help them enjoy themselves. The same holds true for businesses that are converting strangers into loyal customers.
Conversion requires getting to know the person, understanding their wants and needs, and then fulfilling those in a way that is mutually beneficial by helping the customer while giving profit to the enterprise. There are many conversion strategies and techniques, and these can be systemized so that once a new contact enters the leads database, they are automatically cultivated and nurtured to become a paying client. If the current conversion rate is 20 percent for every 100 contacts or leads, that translates into 20 new customers a month. Boost conversions to 30 percent and that represents a 50 percent increase. Convert 40 percent instead of 20 percent and the customer base has effectively doubled without doing any extra marketing or advertising.