I’ve been in businesses where a disgruntled customer has walked out for some reason or another and the response of the customer service representative was something along the lines of, “Take your $50 and spend it elsewhere then! We don’t need it!” (Usually this was muttered under their breath, but not always.) And while it may seem like they only lost the amount of the almost-sale, the true amount that they actually lost by potentially losing that customer for life was likely so much more.
Determining a Customer’s Lifetime Value
In the world of business, you have to think about how much a customer spends over the course of their lifetime, not necessarily how much they pay for each transaction. When I used to work at a restaurant, in my college days, management always said, “Treat every customer as if they are worth $100,000, because that is likely what they will spend here during their lifetime.” That really hit home for me and was the first time I really understood the value of a customer.
To determine how much a customer is worth to you in your particular business, use this equation:
Average sale amount per customer, per transaction
Average number of times the customer shops with you per year
Average length of time a customer uses your services or products
For example, if your average sale is $50 and a customer usually buys from you four times a year, that amount is $200. Multiply that by the average length of time that a customer generally uses your services or products and you’ll arrive at the lifetime value of your customers. So, if a customer usually sticks with you for 10 years, then they are worth roughly $2,000 to you—NOT the $50 cost of the individual sale.
So, how do you get customers to choose you as their one and only service or product provider, spending their lifetime value with you and you only? You follow the three essential keys to marketing success.
3 Essential Keys to Marketing Success
People like to do business with companies that they know, like, and trust—the three keys to successfully marketing your business. John Jantsch, creator of the Duct Tape Marketing System, calls this “The Marketing Hourglass” and it evolves around creating a strong customer relationship so that clients buy from you, and keep buying from you in the future.
Don’t be afraid to share your charming personality with your customers, thus helping them to develop a relationship with you. Get them to see your business as more than just four walls. Instead, help them view it as a living, breathing human being who has character and integrity.
With that thought in mind, here are six things you can do to boost your customer relations (your know, like, and trust factors) and, subsequently increase your sales:
- #1: Look for common ground. A customer relationship is just like any other relationship in that it thrives best when you share a common ground. When you find the areas that you are similar, that is when you start to strengthen your bond. This adds to your know factor and makes them want to do business with you without you having to ask them to.
- #2: Do “one more.” When I am dealing with my clients in my freelance writing business, I always strive to do one more thing for them than they expect, hopefully raising their like Maybe I will deliver content ahead of schedule or write more words than promised. Essentially, it’s the premise of under-promising and over-delivering and it can make a customer a customer for life.
- #3: Have transparency. Transparency creates trust and we all remember the businesses that have operated without transparency and got caught with their pants down, tarnishing their reputation and their customer relations irreparably. Don’t become one of them by keeping an air of openness and honesty with your customers. That way, even if you have bad news, they’ll know you’re being straight with them and they’ll be less likely to walk away from you so quickly.
- #4: Admit a screw-up—immediately. Speaking of bad news, if you do happen to screw up (even if it just appears you’ve screwed up), admit it immediately. If your customer base thinks that you’re trying to sweep things under the rug and keep them in the dark, they’re not likely to trust you and they will take their business elsewhere.
- #5: Ask for and listen to feedback. The best way to know how to improve customer service is to ask your customers. Develop a method for obtaining their feedback so that you know in what areas you excel and which ones you need improvement. Listen to their concerns and, even if you don’t agree with them, work to understand why they would feel that way. This boosts your like factor because who doesn’t like to have their opinion considered
- #6: Lead by example. Finally, if you want to excel in customer service and increase your sales, lead your team by example. Get in the customer’s eye every now and then and show your staff how you want your customer base treated. Be the customer relations representative you want them to be so they’re more likely to treat your customers what they’re really worth…for a lifetime.