Think back over the last several weeks as you have prepared for the holiday season. If you’re like me, you may have completely avoided the crowds, did all of your shopping online, and silently smirked at those who braved the elements; all while sipping a hot cup of coffee from the comfort of your easy chair (I’m an introvert by nature, so massive crowds are never on my to-do list. But kudos to those who do it year after year!). Many of us do our research and buy based strictly on ratings or price unless we already have a relationship with a company that carries the items we’re after. But something happens after the buying process that separates the mediocre companies from the great ones.
In our digital age, the great companies practice a fundamental concept our grandparents depended on to stay in business: they build longterm relationships.
Our grandparents understood that quality relationships with their customers meant repeat business, simpler up sells, referrals to their customers’ friends and family, and minimal client retention and acquisition costs. There was often very little budget for advertising and the closest thing to “social media” was the word of mouth marketing you received from going above and beyond for your customers week after week. You had to honor and add value to your customers after the sale or you went out of business.
In today’s economy, small businesses compete on a much larger playing field than ever before. We can stand toe to toe with some of the big hitters in our respective industries and compete in ways that, just ten years ago, were not available without massive advertising budgets. The small businesses that build relationships, take care of their customers long after they click the “checkout” button on the company’s web site, and add value for their customers are those who can win big in this contemporary marketplace.
As we step into 2014, take a quick inventory of how you’re adding value for your customers after the sale is complete. Take the time to write down a few new customer service practices you can implement now that will impact your revenue numbers over the course of the coming year. It may be a simple “thank you” note after the sale. Or it may be something over the top like what WestJet Airlines recently did for their customers (I bet their customers will never forget them!). Whatever you decide to do, make sure the focus is to show your customers gratitude for choosing you.
Great companies know the relationship doesn’t end with the checkout; they understand it’s only the beginning.