Regardless of what kind of business you are in, you’re in the service business.

We’re all experts in customer service because we’re all customers. We buy cars, haircuts, groceries, dinners and hire plumbers.

We know the difference between companies that treat us right and companies that don’t. We tend to do business with those we know, like and trust.

We need to apply our learning to our own businesses.

Here are 12 suggestions for getting customers for life, something we should all aspire to since it’s much easier to keep a customer than to get a new one.

  1. Treat customers as if they were friends. Customers are just like anyone else. They appreciate a friendly voice on the phone, a warm handshake, someone who calls them by name and makes them feel important.
  2. Start from the inside. Quality customer service depends on your employees. Your employees will not respect your customers if you do not respect your employees. Great quote from Robert Bosch, “I don’t pay good wages because I make a lot of money. I make a lot of money because I pay good wages.”
  3. Keep your game face on. If you want your employees to be motivated, you have to start by acting like your company provides the world’s greatest customer service. Unless you believe it, it’s not going to happen.
  4. Measure and reward performance. Measurement motivates people. Establish clear measurements and tie them to rewards. You cannot manage if you are not measuring.
  5. Learn to listen. Customers buy good feelings and solutions to their problems. Above all, they want to know the person dealing with them is listening. The better you know the customer, the better you can respond to their needs.
  6. Let the customer talk. Don’t assume you know what the customer wants. Resist the temptation to jump in with an answer. Concentrate on what the customer is really saying. The tone of voice and body language will tell you a lot about how the person feels.
  7. Take the word “no” out of your vocabulary. Customers hate to hear the work “no.” While you can’t give customers everything they want, you can talk in terms of what you can do rather than what you cannot do.
  8. Give customers more than they expect. Think of what you can give the customer that they cannot get anywhere else. If you “Wow” you’re customer, they’re more likely to share their experience with others.
  9. Mind the little things. People notice the small personal touches because most companies don’t provide them. Commit to doing the little things that make the big things happen.
  10. Send thank you notes after you finish a job, complete a project or deliver a product. Meet a customer for lunch or coffee. Remember birthdays, anniversaries and other special events.
  11. Encourage feedback — good or bad. The unhappy customer who complains can be your best friend. Most people, if dissatisfied, will simply choose another company next time. Those who tell you they are unhappy are giving you a chance to redeem yourself. In the end, they may remember you more for the way you handled their complaint than for the mistake you made.
  12. Make a commitment to getting customers for life. Long-term customers aren’t easy to come by. They are built through a sustained effort. They spend more, they tell more people about you, they become an annuity for your business.

What secrets do you have for getting, and keeping, customers for life?

Tom Smith

Experienced marketing professional who has worked with more than 120 clients in 18 different vertical industries. ♦ Differentiate products and services by improving UX and delivering memorable CX to create an emotional connection to the brand. ♦ Obtain insights from analytics to solve business problems and drive revenue. ♦ Develop and implement marketing campaigns that double traffic and leads in three months. ♦ Certified Marketing Automation Professional ♦ Certified Voice of the Customer (VOC) Professional