Oct. 7/14 2013; Volume 27/number 12
By Lisbeth Calandrino
Most businesses realize they should connect with their past customers; I believe some past customers are more valuable than others.
Professor David Bell of Wharton noted, “There’s evidence customers who are acquired by word of mouth actually have a higher lifetime value than others.” Of course, all of this points to customers who are now “living online” and talking with their friends.
I called a wedding photographer friend asking if he had a referral for a studio photographer. He raved about an associate, so of course I went to check the photographer’s “online reputation.” (Because my friend raved about this person, I assumed the guy was really good and would have wonderful online reviews.)
After Googling his name, I found three bad comments. One would have been enough, but three? I told my friend what I had found, and he replied that maybe the younger customers didn’t like him because he was “all business.” Business or not, I suggested he clean up his online reputation. In the meantime, I would take a pass. I know my friend is a great wedding photographer and was certain he could provide me with a referral. I wondered what he based his assessment on? Maybe my friend wasn’t actually “word of mouth,” but he was just trying to get a friend a job. (Most likely his friend gets him wedding jobs.)
How will you know who’s likely to become a loyal customer? The only way is if you spend time wherever they are. The best place? Most of you know by now—it’s online. This way, you will know who the ringleaders are, the ones who are chatty and those super involved in the online world. These are the people who post regularly and invite you to their events and meet-ups. Whether you go or not, never ignore an invitation.
How can you get these loyal customers? You need to communicate with them regularly through the normal channels such as telephone, mail and email. Getting them to influence new customers won’t just happen. You will need a plan to keep them loyal. What better way is there to solicit their advice and show them how much you care?
In my opinion, you can’t do enough for them. The more you keep in touch, the better chance you have of being remembered. If they remember you, they will tell their friends. This is why events involving past customers are so important. The more you see these customers, the more likely they are to want their friends to do business with you.
Last week, I held a brand strategy workshop with about 25 people. I always start off with the same question: “What is the purpose of your business?”
Although the majority said, “To make money,” there were several who said, “To build relationships.” You see, business rarely happens without relationships; relationships are the foundation of any business.
Find as many ways as you can to build these relationships and stay in touch with your customers. Your online presence is becoming more important than ever and will continue to grow; it’s time to get a foothold on social media.
If your company was started last week, I can understand why you would only have 10 followers. However, that doesn’t hold true for those who have been in business for over five years.
It’s time to put your business and your employees to the test; it’s time to go out and gain those loyal followers.