Its important to remember how valuable customer data is over time. Collecting data like email addresses, phone numbers, addresses or as much other data as you can related to the interests or activities of your customers can only benefit you.
You will generally find over time that in most markets, 80% of your business comes from 20% of your clients. It would really benefit you to know exactly who these clients are so that you can keep them in that 20%. I generally recommend business owners to organise customers into classes. Lets use for eg, Class A, B,C & D.
Class A – Customers who are common regulars, don’t waste your time, they trust you, and would likely buy a product just because you recommended it. Customers that frequently refer you to other people, and tag you in Facebook statuses. They may just be people who frequently engage with your content on social media. I would highly recommend you consider setting up a VIP customer service and bulk emailing this audience to nurture them and remind them they’re your best customers. If you have cheap products or services that are of genuine value to your market, consider offering these free to your Class A’s. The amount of referrals these clients give you, will likely make you the money back anyway. However in my experience even when I offered these items for free at any time, these customers were so loyal that they actually refused to even take it for free!
Class B – These should be customers who are semi-frequent to your business, sometimes waste your time but 30-50% of them may be likely to buy a product if you suggested or recommended it. Continue to nurture this group with free, valuable content! Remember they will still refer people!
Class C – This class of customers are the people who waste frequently your time, don’t really pay attention to your recommendations, don’t engage with your content, but might use your service once or twice, or have in the past. This obviously not being ‘great’ however its good to know who these people are so that you try to push them up to class B by maybe providing them with more valuable free content, or engage with them differently then you do to your others to try bring them closer. Next time one of these clients visits your business, maybe spend more time just talking to the client, bonding with them. If for example your a mechanic, compliment their car, ask them how its been for them, throw in some compliments like “yeah its a good car for your purpose”, maybe even bring them into the workshop and show them the job as its progressing. I’ve learned that little things like bringing customers ‘behind the scenes’ and just bonding with them in simple ways like this drives massive trust and builds your long term relationship a lot more then you may expect.
Class D – These are generally the customers you’ve had a negative experience with. Maybe they had a bad experience, an argument with you, or left negative reviews about your business online. Obviously not a positive audience, but again its one you want to know about, and I would strongly recommend you consider trying to bring them up the chain to class C but always aim for A. I’ve personally had customers who i had a bad experience with, like for eg, i was really busy and they’re service took longer then I initially stated, or a delivery of a part may have been delayed. Be really careful about how you engage with this market. Don’t be too push on ‘your side’ of the argument or story. Be focused on how it affected them and how much they relied on your service at the time to solve their issue. Generally when customers are angry and argue with you, you will normally want to push your side of the argument and we all do! However learning how to deal with angry customers is an extremely important concept you will benefit from if you can master it. Generally an angry customer just wants you to understand how much of a stuff around it was, or how much it impacted them. Make sure you express empathy and consideration. Understand and show interest in the fact that they got stuffed around (whether you agree or not). Let them vent & listen to them!
Some people can be extremely difficult to deal with, almost impossible at times! and I understand that! Your probably not the first business to cop it from them either! But you may want to consider reaching out to the customer a few days or weeks after their experience once the situation has cooled. Offer them some free content or small gifts. Maybe even just to see how they’re product/service they got from you is going. Don’t be afraid to bring up the bad experience – maybe offer your apologies if you could have done something better.
99% of happy customers don’t seem to leave reviews about their experiences, but you will usually find 100% of angry customers will always leave bad reviews, and want to vent to their friends or family when they get home how unhappy they are, who then also tell their friends and family if your business is mentioned in a conversation. In saying this, you want to cool the situation on the first occasion and let them vent at ‘you’ rather then to other people. You don’t want them leaving your building angry! The first thing we all do when we get angry is talk to someone close to us and tell them!
Word of Mouth
Before I got into business everybody always told me how important word of mouth was and i always agreed. But I didn’t realise how much! I severely underestimated the power of word of mouth referrals and after 7 years i can say it is by far the most important and my highest percentage of customers have always come from this! Generally around 70%!
Connect personally with your clients. Don’t treat them as just another customer like most of your businesses these days do. When customers feel a genuine connection with you, or an authentic, ‘real’ experience. They will hang off you like f##king seagulls. I’ve seriously had clients that I have given so much free content to, without ever trying to make a sale from them or get anything at all & they seriously came to me and asked things like ‘what do you have for me to buy?” or ” surely you have something i can purchase or donate to”. Yes i’m bloody serious! & you can read more about this area of sales psychology – Reciprocation, where I go a lot more about in depth on how you can master this concept.
I’ve always told myself and my employees that if a customer comes in to receive our service, or purchase a product. I don’t care how much money the sale resulted in, if that customer leaves the building and you don’t know their name or at least something about them, that is not a great sale. Its important we don’t focus so much on ‘getting the customers money’ and focus more on what is actually valuable to this customer. What does this customer really need? Maybe its within their best interests to use another service instead of yours? Maybe your not the best service for them!
Disfunctional selling produces disfunctional buying
Have you ever been to a business and the salesman was trying so hard to sell you that TV, House or Car, and you actually really needed the product, but it was so obvious to you the salesman was really only interested in getting his commission and making the sale? You noticed it right? Your customers do too. They’re not stupid so don’t treat them like they are. This straight away forms distrust between the client and the salesman, because they know your not interested in providing them with something that is of genuine value to them. This is why customers lie to you, or give you excuses like ‘ill think about it’, or ‘ill go home and check with my partner’. They’re avoiding the sale because it doesn’t feel comfortable. Its likely they wouldn’t have come to your store in the first place if they didn’t have the funds to pay for it.
In the year 2000’s, business used to be all about having a nice logo, a nice business card, website, and being on the front page of Google. It seems so common for businesses to just push out sales offers, opt-ins and discounts everywhere and we all know what they want – money! They want a quick sale! They’re not interested in what actually matters to you, and you know that! You can sense it from a mile off.
In those days people would use your service just because it was in the yellow pages and you had a nice ad, or your logo looked ‘cool’ so you must be professional. This may have worked for a long time but as far as the market is going lately, these tactics are proving to show poor results and alot of big companies are failing at this, and many are beginning to notice this – Some even master it. Lets use the Apple as an example, Here I discuss how they have mastered the way they market to the current market. Did you know that it’s estimated by the year 2020, consumers will need to be exposed to your brand between 15-20 times before they’re likely to purchase from you? That’s a HUGE difference to what it was almost 10 years ago. Do you know why? People have actually begun to HATE being sold to! We are constantly exposed to so much advertising we don’t care about and pamphlets shoved in our faces constantly we have begun to hate even the terms ‘sales’ & ‘salespeople’. Don’t be a salesman, be the guy who actually gives a shit about your customers needs and values.
Whats the first thing your friend says to you when they want to purchase a product from your business? In my last 10 years of business I’ve always received the regular “Do i get a discount?” or “Mates rates?”. When you establish a business, you will naturally end up having friends or acquaintances you know come to receive your service, or purchase a product from you. Now this topic can be quite touchy to discuss so bare with me, I understand peoples opinions on the matter may vary but I really feel its one that needs to be touched on so that you can consider how you want to approach it.
Naturally we all want to look after our friends and offer them better prices or a faster service and I completely understand where your coming from because I did it myself for a long time. A big lesson that I learnt in life was that once a favour becomes repetitive, it always develops into an expectation, and if you ever try to ‘downsize’ or ‘decrease’ that favour in any way, you very quickly become the worst person in the world. Obviously for your business to function you will require a stream of profit, that goes without mentioning. Aswell as when you first establish your business, quite commonly family & friends are many of your first customers and then you obviously begin to build your customer base.
However, when I personally visit a business owned by a friend or a member of my family. I want that person to succeed in what they’re doing. I know the years of effort, and all the late nights that person put into their passion to get to where they are. I can’t bring myself to ask them to give me that service with no profit. In fact, I refuse to receive a discount and would be more then happy to pay retail, because that’s what keeps them in business.
When i hear somebody say “can you do it for cost price?” “mates rates?” or “can you do it for free?” – All I hear is “your time means nothing to me”. These people who may actually be good friends to you, thou just not thinking of the bigger picture, it may be unintentional, or they just didn’t see it in this way. You will find your real friends will be the ones coming into your business and are perfectly fine with paying retail. You may even have some friends whose purchase may cost $93, they’ll give you $100 and say keep the change. They could even be someone who just recognises your stressed and overworked. Gives you a random call to say “hey i see your stressed, let me come in and help you with something, or take you out for lunch”. These are real friends.
Generally when we give professional service to friends and family its natural to want to look after them and give them cheaper rates or a better service of some kind. Now remember I did this too! so don’t get me wrong! I’m just offering a different way to look at this, its up to you what you do. But over time I began to realise that in offering this discount, I began to give these people less priority, as I had other jobs in line waiting who were willing to pay more. Or that your friends won’t get mad at you so they can wait a little longer. So I was ultimately giving my closer friends, and even family, a worse experience then I was giving to people I didn’t even know.
I found myself on some occasions having to deal with warranty issues. Where I would do a ‘cost price’ job for a friend, then the job may have issues, or I needed to replace something else, and you very soon find yourself out of pocket for something that may or may not have been your fault. In some cases, depending on your level of friendship and how important the job is, there is potential there to lose a friend or start drama over trying to look after them in the first place.