Monday, August 16, 2010

Take Care of Your Current Customers!

clip_image002[1]This article was written by Carl Woodard, SCORE Orange County Chairperson

Keeping your current customers happy is as important today as ever….perhaps more so. Analyze the cost to gain 10 new customers and you will realize that keeping ten current customers is far cheaper. And, you already know their buying habits, preferences, payment history and how to attract their business. How do you keep them, given today’s business environment? First, keep supplying them with top quality products and personal service. And follow up with them to see how they think you are performing….but be careful how and when you ask for that opinion.

Recently, I entered my local bank and found the usual long line of customers waiting to be served. I became line member number 17. The line moved slowly and I noticed that there were eight teller windows at the long counter, but only three were occupied. After several minutes, a well dressed employee moved down the line and, with clipboard in hand and a smile on his face, asked me “How can we help you today?” I suggested that he count the number of people who were backed up, drop his clipboard, go behind one of the open windows and start serving customers. His response was, “I wish I could” ….and he moved to the next in line….and asked the same insincere question. The result was a few dozen customers being vividly reminded that they were not being helped very well.

Customers know good quality in products and services which they receive. It is expected, appreciated and leads to loyalty. Loyalty can give you the edge even though your price may be higher and your store smaller than competitors. And, when you ask your customer how you can help them, be ready to demonstrate that you mean it by taking some action. Now, that will impress them.

At SCORE Orange County, we like satisfied customers. We first try to determine exactly what help you need for running your business. Do you need a business plan, or tips on how to improve sales? Do you need to understand your cash flow or learn how to use social networking to introduce your business to an expanded customer base? SCORE offers workshops throughout the county, most at no charge. Then we follow with personal, confidential, one on one counseling either in person or via the internet, always at no charge. We are well stocked with experts on finance, marketing, sales, human resources and other specialties. And you can receive these services free. Simply call us at 714-550-7369 and arrange an appointment or visit us at www.score114.org and sign up for a workshop or reserve an exhibit table at our next Women in Business breakfast meeting.

You will find that, when SCORE asks you, “How may we help you?” we really mean it. Try us!