5. Start The Business

CUSTOMERS – Build customers

More Ways to Build Your Customer Base
Here are 8 suggestions for places to look when building up your customer base:

  1. Request: Always keep yourself tuned to the needs of people who may be looking for your particular product or service.

  2. Cold call: Many people do not like to cold call, but this is a good way of growing a business.

  3. Ask for referrals: There’s nothing like a referral, so ask to be referred by someone who has used your product, or who knows you.

  4. Network: Attend conferences, seminars and trade shows and make yourself known. Networking is one of the best ways to find customers.

  5. Use your acquaintances: When starting your business, make sure your friends and associates know what you are doing. They may be a good source of customers, because they will tell others about you.

  6. Do seminars: If you have expertise in a certain area, set up seminars because this is a good way to let people know how you can help them.

  7. Set up a web site: Setting up a web site is essential if you have products or services to offer.

  8. Articles or public speaking: If you can write about your type of service, or if you can speak at conferences or seminars, then try and arrange these because they are good ways to generate new leads and potential customers.

Why Customers won't buy from you
Here are some reasons why customers fail to buy from you:

  • Reason 1: They have no money
    Customers either don’t have the money or they prefer to use the money on something else that has a higher priority.

  • Reason 2: They don’t have a need
    Customers come to the conclusion that they either don’t need the product or they don’t want to buy it at that time.

  • Reason 3: There is no trust
    Customers sometimes fear losing something they have, more than they desire gaining something they want. This fear causes potential customers to avoid buying something they really want. Trust is lacking.

  • Reason 4: There is no hurry
    Customers take a while to make a decision and they are easily distracted by other offers and other priorities.

How do You Qualify Customers?
What do you do when meeting with a potential customer? The customer seems mildly interested in what you have to offer, but he/she currently isn’t using any of the products from your competitors. They generally end up saying that they will think about it, and then do nothing from then on. You may have met many potential customers, but don’t close the sales. The problem could be your selling skills or it could be something as common as having the wrong prospects.

This means you need to qualify customers so you don’t waste unnecessary time with people who have no intention of completing a sale.

To qualify a prospect you need to meet 3 criteria.

These are:

  1. Has the person a need for your product or service?
  2. Can the person afford it?
  3. Is the person prepared to pay for it?

Questions to Ask Your Customers
Try and get to know your customers.

Here are some questions that need to be asked:

  1. Is your customer an individual?
  2. Is your customer an organisation?
  3. Is your customer male?
  4. Is your customer female?
  5. Is the person you are approaching the user? If not, evaluate both the buyer and the intended user.
  6. What is the age range of your potential customer?
  7. Where do your customers live?
  8. What do they use the products for?
  9. Are they happy to pay for the product?
  10. What are they presently using to meet their needs?
  11. Are they looking for high quality or low price?
  12. How will you let them know about your product or service?
  13. Do they need customer support?
  14. How much are they prepared to pay?
  15. What type of warranty are they after?

Complaining Customers do you a Favour
A customer who takes the time and trouble to complain to you is doing your business a favour. They are helping you grow your business by pointing out areas needing improvement. They are giving you the chance to resolve the problem and by doing so you will retain their loyalty.

They are helping you by alerting you to a problem, which could cost your business a lot of money if other customers also become unhappy and change to your competitors.

If the problem is to do with your own business, you can correct it yourself. If it is to do with products or services your company is offering and involves outside organisations, advise the organisation concerned and ask them to correct it.

Once the outside company has corrected the problem or has indicated they will do so, let your customer know, so that they will be happy the problem has been corrected. At all times, keep your complaining customer satisfied and loyal.

Create Customers for Life
When creating a garden, the process involves planting the right seed, fertilising and cultivating the soil.

The same is true in a business when applied to your potential customers and clients.

Business today is very competitive and it is necessary to keep your business name and services in front of customers. You need to cultivate your customers and prospects by building long-term relationships to generate customers for life.

Cultivation of your prospective customers will result in 3 things:

  1. It will establish who you are in their mind: This will help to differentiate your business from others and help you stand out.

  2. It conditions people to buy: By staying in touch with them you can be aware of their requirements. This should encourage them to continue doing business with you.

  3. It lowers resistance: Any new ideas, or products and services you have will be attractive to loyal customers. These types of customers see the value of what you have to offer and they will be more likely to buy additional products and services from you.

CUSTOMER SERVICE – Put in support and customers services systems

What is Customer Service?
Customer service is something that is perceived in the eye of the customer. This means you need to find out what your customers believe is excellent service and what they believe is bad service.

Customer service is how you treat people who buy your products and services. The perception to the customer will depend on the specific customer involved. Customer service is to do with giving the customer what they want, when they need it, and how they requested it. The objective is to make sure the customer is happy so they will return to your business and buy more goods and services in the future.

It is to do with showing your customer they are important so they feel valued and comfortable in having a relationship with your business.

What is Customer Service to do with?
Customer service can be:

  • Giving the customer what they want, when they need it, how they need it.
  • Making sure the customer is happy.
  • Making sure the customer returns for further purchases.
  • Greeting and looking after the customer in a friendly manner.
  • Ensuring a competitive advantage with your customer over your competitors.
  • Making sure you deliver a great product to your customer.
  • Giving a product or service at a discounted price.
  • Exceeding the expectations of your customer.

The 5 Basic Rules of Service
Here are the 5 basic rules:

  • Rule 1 - Put your customer first: A strong customer ethic should guide your business right from the start. Keep in mind that no matter whether you manufacture, grow, produce, distribute or sell you are “in service”.

  • Rule 2 – Stay close to your customers: Listen to your customers and put strategies in place to satisfy their requests. Know what’s on your customers mind - then your business will be able to satisfy them. Business owners need to realise that keeping their current customers happy is cheaper than attracting new customers.

  • Rule 3 – Pay attention to the details: Many business owners look for the special ingredient that makes their business stand out from their competitors. They offer coupons, home delivery, free coffee, special prizes, etc. to show their customers they want to please them. However, they miss the most important extra that customers are looking for - good service. This could mean greeting the customer by name and attending promptly to their queries.

  • Rule 4– Never take customers for granted: Customer service is enjoying resurgence. It is no longer the domain of wealthy businesses, or businesses with high exposure brand names. No business should take their customers from granted. The market is becoming a buyer’s market and to win you have to give customers what they want and not what you think they want. Provide courteous, friendly service to everyone in your store because you don’t know who will become a regular customer. If you want to keep your customers coming back for more, try and practise the “golden rule” - it makes good business sense.

  • Rule 5– Exceed expectation: Always try and exceed your customers’ expectations. If you make a promise to obtain a particular product for a customer within the next three days, see if you can do it in one day. If you promise a price for a product under $50, see if you can do it under $45. Try and exceed what you promise.

The Most Important Rule of All
The most important rule of all is to under-promise and over-deliver.

Make sure your customers believe they are important by going the extra mile, in certain cases. If your customer asks for a delivery date, give a date that allows some leeway, and deliver earlier if possible. If you are asked for a quote, give a quote that contains a reserve, allowing you to bring it in at a lower price.

It is a good promotional strategy to major customers by continually exceeding their expectations. Most businesses today over-promise and under-deliver. If you under-promise and over-deliver the resulting kudos will surprise you.

Develop a Customer Relations Policy
Creating a customer relations policy, instead of making it up as you go along, is important. Your policy is a guarantee to your customers that you will work to achieve their satisfaction. Your policy can state such things as a money-back guarantee, speedy service, prompt attention to complaints, promise of discounts, free delivery, etc.

Make sure all your staff members understand your business policy and that they stick to it at all times. It’s good to display your policy clearly on all your documentation so that your customers know what you stand for, and they also know what to expect if they don’t do their part.

Give Customers What They Want
If you don’t give customers what they want, there is no reason for them to continue coming to your business. Many business owners reduce prices to keep their customers happy, but they don’t appreciate that loyalty is a stronger incentive to remain a customer. Loyal customers will not be easily put off by a small shift in pricing by competitors. Customers are loyal because of good customer service and the relationship that has been established, which they care about.

If you don’t know what your customers expect, ask them. Once you receive feedback – do something about it. A simple questionnaire or a friendly chat with customers will tell you a lot about their expectations. You then need to inform your staff and put policies in place that will keep those customers happy and coming back for more.

Keep in Touch With Customers
Sometimes generating extra sales from your current customers requires a little homework on your part. Keep in touch with your customers by informing them about discounts or other services at your store. This may be by a telephone call, newsletter or an email. Customers feel valued, and even if they don’t purchase immediately, the customer care will produce future rewards.

It is also a good idea to find out which customers are extremely loyal and provide more incentives for them to stay loyal. Concentrate on keeping your loyal group happy because they will bring you good business.

What Customers Love the most
Here are some things customers find important:

  • Return telephone calls promptly.
  • Attend to their concerns quickly.
  • Always ask clients what you can do to help them.
  • Now and then send out appreciation notes to your better clients.
  • Send hand written notes for different occasions.
  • If appropriate, send birthday cards.
  • If you have a web site, create an area specifically for your customers.
  • Make sure your shop or offices are always well set out for the comfort of customers and clients.
  • Thank your customers for their business and ask them to come back again.
  • Set up a fax on demand or email system to respond quickly to any enquiries from customers.
  • Put a good message on your answer machine or voicemail system for those after-hours calls.
  • If you see something of interest in the newspaper or journal or magazine that may be important to a particular customer, send it to them with a small FYI note.

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