In your rush to recruit new customers, it's all too easy to overlook the most cost-effective marketing campaign of all - getting back in touch with your lapsed customers.
If you need proof that this works, read on.
Mike Yorke runs the Mike Yorke Golf Academy. After reading my latest book he approached me asking for help in growing his customer base and that of the eight coaches he works with. I suggested we look at the lapsed customer base of each coach and make these our first targets.
We asked each coach to set aside a couple of hours to call their lapsed customers; they asked them how they were getting on with their golf and updated them on coaching services that they might be interested in. The coaches were then asked to follow up with a friendly email summarising the conversation.
The results were fantastic.
One of the coaches emailed Mike the day after his calling session. Of the 25 lapsed customers he had spoken to, 12 had booked another golf lesson; six paid immediately. And seven asked that coach to stay in touch saying they would have more golf lessons in the future. Just six said they had no plans to return to golf coaching.
So why do so many business owners focus their energies solely on attracting new customers in preference to reopening the pipeline to their lapsed ones?
It boils down to:
Fear of rejection. What if they tell me why they stopped using my services and I don't like their answer?
It doesn't occur to them that a lapsed customer can become a live one again with coaxing.
So how can you get in touch with your lapsed customers?
In one lapsed client letter, I began with the headline: "We've missed you!"
Make sure the letter shouts out quality so use 120gsm paper; attach your business card and if you've got a decent quality promotional gift that can go inside the envelope, pop it in! Consider handwriting the envelope. Follow up with a telephone call and find out why they left you in the first place and what their present arrangements are. Then follow up with an email recapping your conversation.
These are simple, powerful and proven tips that should bring some of your lapsed customers back to your business. What's stopping you?
Copyright © 2016 Dee Blick is a Fellow of The Chartered Institute of Marketing and an Amazon #1 bestselling author of The Ultimate Small Business Marketing Book and The 15 Essential Marketing Masterclasses for your Small Business.
“You cannot say ‘the customer is king' in this day and age...” That was the feedback I was given recently. “It’s so 1985.”
At first, I wasn't sure if the criticism didn't say more about the critic than about the three little words but I am not so sure.
It feels like the obvious is being stated when we are told. However, if it is so obvious, then why do so few people do it?
Well, what I do get is that the phrase is not as of the moment as CE, CX, or CEM, (and if you have to ask then it shows just how behind the curve you are).
While the phrase may seem a little dated, I did also have a simpler problem. Way back in 2002, I wrote the book, Customer is King. It was good enough that Sir Richard Branson wrote a foreword for it.
As it happens, it has just been updated and published on Kindle. As it is the title of my book, I do feel committed to using the phrase.
The phrase has been over-used but then so has “profit is vanity, cash is sanity”.
However, the real question is whether the phrase imparts its full meaning. Personally, I think it probably does. But then again you are my customer, and only your opinion really matters, so what do you think?
Copyright © 2015 Robert Craven. Robert runs The Directors’ Centre, helping businesses to grow. He is a keynote speaker and best-selling author of Kick-Start Your Business and Grow Your Service Firm as well as The Customer is King.
Are you giving off subtle signals that are putting off potential customers? And are these signals building confidence or wariness among your staff? Subtle signals are often more powerful than overt ones. So how do you avoid sending the wrong signals?
If you spend too much time telling and not enough asking, then the subtle message is that the buyer is a sales target. The same applies to staff. At a recent restaurant launch the owner talked about the brilliant things that had been done but that one group of people had made it harder and needed to do better. The good news motivated, but the subtle message, sucking energy from the room, was “we bear grudges”.
Advice: Always stay focused on others. Keep your disappointments private.
Doing the right thing is assumed — but putting extra attention on having done the right thing may give the subtle message that it is special. It could suggest that you done the right thing this time, but normally you don't.
Advice: Help people to see that you always do the right thing by your actions, not your words.
In business we care far more about whether the job is done well, than whether there was a challenge on the way. Customers aren't going to buy it because they are sympathetic about the problems you had. So focus on the outcomes, not the journey. Tell people what they want and need to know — the job has been done and it has been done well.
Advice: Quality matters and so does the perception of quality.
The subtle signals in phrases like “I think you should” and “what you need to do now” highlight your desire to make choices for others, for the right reasons perhaps, but in the wrong way. Customers like to make their own choices. So facilitate these choices by asking questions to help them make their own decision — and support the choices they do make.
Advice: Influence comes more from supporting small choices, not defining large ones.
Most conversational questioning isn't deeply considered and an off the cuff reply can send a damaging subtle message. For example, “how many employees do you have?” assumes a business model that relies on internally-resourced work, but perhaps you use efficient outsourcing arrangements. If so, then the subtle message in a reply of, say, “four” is that you’re a very small business. Is that really representative?
Advice: Be alert to the underlying question and give a considered response that answers that question.
As humans we have to make assumptions all the time, usually based on some internal model of how the world works. A statement that means one thing in our model of the world may mean something very different in the other person's world. Therefore checking what assumptions have been made is always worthwhile. Do this by asking clarifying questions.
Advice: Check understanding. Often.
When you align the subtle signals to the overt ones you'll be seen as consistent and always on message, and that's something the truly great businesses do brilliantly.
Major consumer rights changes became law at the end of 2013 and they are likely to affect most UK consumer-facing businesses. Yet according to a survey by Eversheds, two-thirds of UK business leaders are unaware of the changes and over a third are unsure how the changes will impact on their business.
The EU Consumer Rights Directive was brought into statute on 13th December 2013. It aims to simplify consumer rights so that consumers are clearer about their rights when purchasing goods and services.
The change in rules will obviously impact upon UK businesses — but how? Here’s a simple guide explaining how businesses will have to adapt over the next few months so that by June 2014 (when the rules are enforced) businesses are in line with the law:
Businesses will now be expected to explicitly disclose the total cost of the product or service as well as any extra fees. Consumers shopping online will not be liable for any charges or other costs if they were not properly informed before they placed their order.
Businesses must give customers 14 days to change their minds and withdraw from a sales contract, so customers can return goods for any reason if they change their minds. If the business doesn’t state this clearly, the return period must be extended to a year. The period will begin from the moment the customer receives the goods instead of from the conclusion of the contract, which is how it currently stands.
Businesses must refund consumers for the product, including the cost of delivery, if the customer returns the product within the statutory period.
If businesses want the consumer to cover the cost of returning the goods, they must state this clearly beforehand, otherwise the business must pay.
Businesses will now be banned from charging customers more for paying by credit card than what it actually costs for them to provide this means of payment.
Under the new rules, businesses will no longer be able to use premium rate 09 numbers or higher rate 084 or 087 numbers for their customer services or complaints lines. Switching to national rate numbers will lower the call costs for mobile users.
For those companies that still want to provide a non-geographic number, they can simply switch to an 03 number. This will provide them with the benefits of an 08 number, but it will allow consumers to call from mobiles at low rates, as the minutes are included in monthly bundles.
The same set-up can be used with 03 numbers and any virtual geographic (01 or 02) numbers. What’s more, those using an 084 number will be able to switch to the equivalent 034 number, so they only need to change one digit to comply with the guidelines.
Katherine Evans is PR and marketing executive at 03NumberShop.
Follow these ten commandments on customer service and you won't go far wrong — our thanks to Moneypenny for sharing this brilliant infographic with us.