The bottom line of any business is increasing sales. As a result, many business owners focus on attracting new customers through various means—traditional advertising, digital marketing, inbound marketing etc. This article covers a very important aspect of decision-making from a customers’ point of view – improve communications.
Research firm TARP has found that for every person who complains, there are 26 who do not. That means if 10 customers complain, another 260 may have quietly dumped you, never to call again. To know what customers are thinking, ask them.Ben McConnell
However, it’s important to keep in mind that keeping customers is as important, if not more so, than attracting new ones. As this article from Entrepreneur points out, “Your existing customers are 14 times more likely to buy from you than a new customer.” This is especially true when you’re selling the kind of product that needs to be bought frequently, like clothes, groceries, cleaning supplies, light bulbs etc.
There are also products that only need to be bought once a decade or even less frequently, like refrigerators, cars, and homes. But even when it comes to these, customer retention is important. Someone who just bought their starter home through you might remember what a great experience they had and what a great deal you managed to get for them. As a result, they might consult you ten years later, when they’re looking for a larger home for their family. Hence, the reason to improve communications changes in this context.
In such cases, one sale counts for a great deal, because the product that’s being purchased is an expensive one. So even if you can get the customer to come back to you once every ten years, you’ll be turning a profit.
The question is, how do you get this to happen? How do you get customers to turn to you when they’re purchasing products for both, the short-term and the long run? Here are a few tips:
Communicate – To Improve Communications
The key to customer retention is improving communication. And it’s important to remember that if you want to improve communication – it goes both ways. You need to communicate better with your customer and they need to communicate better with you. As this article from Phoenix Business Journal points out, it’s important to create an emotional connection with your customer and this is best done via communication.
- Ask the Right Questions: Unfortunately, your customer isn’t going to sit down and think about how they can communicate better with you. They’re just going to come to you and expect you to understand what they want. So it becomes your job to read between the lines. You have to ask the right questions and elicit the information that you need.
- Simplify the Purchasing Process: Let’s say someone comes to you to buy a house. Now, houses come in many shapes and sizes. They’re constructed at various locations and different amenities might be available at each one. A customer might come to you without having thought about exactly what they’re looking for in a house. So it’s up to you to ask them where they work, how much they’re willing to commute, whether they have children, how much they make per year etc. And based on the answers you receive, you’ll be able to come up with the best house for that person.
- Build Trust: How do you get so many personal details from someone who’s a virtual stranger? It’s important to make them feel at home, to make them trust you, to make them feel like they’re speaking to a friend. That’s why it’s necessary to have a well-trained sales force with good communication skills. At the same time, you also need to impress on your salespeople that you’re not just trying to sell a product. You want to genuinely make sure that your customers are happy with that product. This is what will make sure that they keep coming back in the future.
- Keep in Touch: In addition to training your salespeople, you also need to prepare your customer service representatives. As this article from Forbes emphasizes, your customers need to know that their interaction with you doesn’t end when they purchase the item they need. You’ll still be there in case they need any help later on, if the product stops working and needs repair or replacement. Keeping in touch with the customer throughout the product’s lifetime ensures that they’ll remember you when it’s time to buy a new one. Improve communications simply by communicating more and better 🙂
Embrace Change To Improve Communications
As times change, so do people’s needs. When cell phones first started becoming popular, they didn’t have all the high-tech features we see in them today. People considered themselves lucky if they could just pick up a clunky phone, no matter where they were, and dial someone.
Now, people want sleek phones with a number of apps, internet access, a capacity to play music, read books, send text messages etc. A company in the forefront of the cell phone industry twenty years ago would no longer be in the forefront now if it didn’t change with the times.
- Stay in the Know: It’s not just the cell phone industry that keeps changing; the same is true of any other industry. You can’t expect to continue doing the exact same thing and still keep your customers. You have to know what’s going on in your field, what kind of changes are being made and what people are looking for. And you have to embrace change.
- Overcome Resistance: Embracing change is something that a lot of business owners are resistant to. Once they find one thing that works for them, they want to keep doing that, no matter what their customers might be looking for. But everything works for a limited period of time, after which people start looking for something better or, at times, just plain different. If you find that you or your team are being resistant, read this article from Inc. for some change-related quotes.
- Keep in Touch with Trends: Sometimes, people might merely be following trends rather than looking for something that’s better quality. And it’s important that you keep in touch with these trends. For example, if mustard-colored handbags are “in” this season, you’ll need to stop producing maroon-colored ones and start producing the ones that people want to buy.
Streamline Processes to Improve Communications
As a business owner, you have to be in touch with everything that’s going on within your company. This might seem difficult, almost impossible, and most business owners have struggled with it at one point or the other.
You might give someone a task to do and it may not get done, even if that person is one of your best employees. You’ll have to keep track of the status of the task, intervening a few times, to make sure it’s accomplished. You may have to change the scope of the task or even assign it to someone else during the process. All of this points to one thing – improve communications.
Although many business owners might be tempted to do everything themselves, this isn’t an option, once your business grows beyond your garage. So what can you do to make sure that your business runs smoothly and efficiently, in order to keep customers you already have?
- Hire or Outsource: You can organize things within your company as much as possible by hiring or outsourcing specific tasks. You might be surprised at how many things can be outsourced nowadays, such as accounting, marketing, HR etc. Again, you need to improve communications if you’re going to outsource. So if you don’t need a full-time person in any of these departments, you don’t have to hire one. You can still simplify, organize and streamline, by hiring professionals who will take care of that aspect of running your business. Just remember that assigning different tasks to different departments, consultants or companies doesn’t lead to complete segregation. As this article from Entrepreneur points out, you have to “unite internally to improve externally.”
- Get Software: Software like Tallyfy can help you no matter what type of business you run. The idea behind the software is that the person who is performing the task can do so seamlessly without constantly having to consult a supervisor. At the same time, you, as the business owner, can keep track of everything that’s being done, how well it’s being done, how much time it’s taking etc. In the long run, Tallyfy isn’t just going to help you to run your day-to-day operations but will result in streamlining your processes, improving efficiency and keeping customers.
Do YOU have any personal tips & tricks for improving communication? Let us know down in the comments!