What Have You Done This Week To Build A Customer Relationship?

Customer Service Excellence

It’s Friday! As a small business owner, you’ve undoubtedly spent most of your week putting out fires: responding to problems, handling issues, answering emails and phone calls. Maybe you paid some bills, handled payroll, polished off an ad for the newspaper.

But have you done anything besides advertising to cultivate a relationship with a prospect or customer?

Make it a Friday habit (or any other day you prefer) to spend 15 minutes — yes, just 15 minutes — in some sort of relationship-cultivating activity. Here are some ideas:

  • Call or write whoever spent the most money with you this week and thank them for their business
  • Call or write a new customer to tell them how glad you are they shopped with you and remind them of your other products and services (besides what they’ve already purchased).
  • Make a list of your top ten customers and over the next week, reach out to them by phone, email, or note to thank them for their business. Ask them to refer you to someone. Given them an incentive or discount coupon.
  • If you keep a list of birthdays, send someone a birthday note.
  • If you’re not good at remembering details about your customers, start a customer file and keep notes on customers: names of spouse and children and their accomplishments; hobbies; significant milestones (birthday, anniversary, etc.); travel. The more you can let people know you’re interested enough in them to remember these details, the more they’ll want to patronize your business. This kind of note-keeping is what will enable you to say “Hi, Tom, how was your trip to Germany?” or “Good morning, Mary, I was so impressed to read about your son being valedictorian!” Believe me, people really respond to this kind of personal touch.
  • Recommend a book, movie, or activity to a customer. This requires that you know what interests them and what they might like (see note above about keeping a record of this kind of thing).
  • Step out of your office and interact with the customers in your store/place of business. They will respond to the attentions of the owner, and you’ll have a chance to find out what brought them in your store and what problems you can help them solve. The visibility of an owner is highly correlated with business success.
  • Take a look around your store, and especially at your entrance, and see if it is warm, inviting, and easy to navigate. Sometimes small changes to decor and signage can make a big difference in how much your customers want to come in a do business.
  • If you’re on LinkedIn, connect with one or two customers each week. When appropriate, endorse or recommend them.

Your customers/clients are your most precious resource. Cultivate them and turn them into an army of ambassadors, by letting them know you care about them. This small investment of time is the heart and soul of relationship marketing, and it will pay big dividends for your business success.

What’s one small way you can reach out right now to show a customer you care?




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  1. I don’t do enough of this with my writing/editing business. Though I do keep in touch with people online/in social networking. I did send out a half dozen handwritten notes last week…to special connections. This is a great list, Elizabeth. I’m sharing on my Fan Page.

  2. Thanks so much, Karen! I’m always surprised how business owners forget these simple, important tools for connecting with those they most want to cultivate. The Golden Rule continues to prevail: if we think about how we like to be treated when we patronize a business, we get clues how to treat our own customers.

  3. And I got my note from you, Karen! Thank you so much…

  4. One new process I am implementing is to call each new LinkedIn connection and say hello IRL (phone). I hope this helps me to nurture new connections into higher level relationships. Let’s see how it works.

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