For any business, large or small, one of the greatest challenges is generating sales. While it is certainly important to attract new customers or clients, it is frequently much easier and more lucrative to turn the existing clients your business has into repeat clients. Countless studies have shown that the cost of acquiring a new client is exponentially higher than the corresponding cost of converting an existing or first-time buyer into a client for life.
While retailers can offer rewards benefits or discounts to repeat clients, this methodology frequently does not apply to service-oriented businesses. Furthermore, the downside to this methodology is that a business employing this strategy may not be creating true loyalty with its customer base that has a high degree of “stickiness.” For example, most grocery stores offer some sort of loyalty program, but most consumers loyalty is based on the grocery store’s proximity to their home. If they were to relocate and that same grocery store chain was no longer the nearest location to their home, there is a high likelihood that whichever chain is now the nearest will become their grocery store of choice. We are striving for a higher degree of loyalty than that. So, in some cases quite literally, the million dollar question is how does a service-oriented business create repeat clients?
Here are 5 tips for helping your service-oriented business create repeat clients:
1. Create an email or mailing list to communicate with your existing clients.
Creating an email or mailing list allows you to stay “front of mind” with your existing clients. The message you communicate needs to be informational and helpful, not merely sales-focused or promotional. Remind the client of your expertise and why the experience they had with you was helpful to them. Ideally, when your existing client base thinks of the topic or subject you consider to be your core competency or specialty, you want to be the first thing that pops into their head.
2. Deliver exceptional value and quantifiable results.
To engender repeat business, existing clients must be able to point to specific areas where your efforts resulted in significant improvements or positive results. It is ideal if you can provide assistance to your clients in areas that are particularly challenging or areas where it is difficult to find individuals equipped with the specific expertise required. Exceed your clients expectations, not so much by under-promising and over-delivering, but by anticipating their needs and concerns and preemptively addressing them.
3. Take the risk out of the equation for your client.
There are a number of barriers to successfully acquiring a client or earning repeat business from an existing one. If you can eliminate just this concern, it improves your chances significantly. While first-time clients’ unfamiliarity with your business and the services you offer cause trepidation, potential repeat clients can be reluctant to believe that you can help them any more than you already have. When possible, make the compensation scale for your work entirely contingency-based, meaning that there is no risk to your clients. There is no better way to convey that you are confident in your ability to deliver tangible positive results to your clients.
4. Cultivate important relationships from the outset.
For the most part, great customer service is a baseline for businesses today. Achieving great customer service alone is not enough to create repeat clients, but failing to provide it is a sure way to kill repeat business. From the beginning, convey to your clients that you would like to have a long-term relationship with them. Encourage them to call with questions and concerns, free of charge, even after the original engagement or interaction has been completed. Similar to the email or mailing list concept, remaining in constant contact with your clients reminds them of the value your business delivered previously, as well as the level of expertise you have in your niche.
5. Ask for repeat business.
An old sales adage is that one must “ask for the business,” but it is true. It is just as true for closing repeat business as it is for closing new business. When your business has the solution an existing customer requires, ask them for the business. Don’t forget it!
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Aaron C. Giles is the Founder & Managing Principal of Agile Consulting Group, Inc., a sales and use tax consulting firm that specializes in performing contingency-based engagements focused on recovering overpayments of sales & use tax for its clients while aligning their accounting and tax systems with current tax laws to maximize the benefit of the exemptions available to them. Mr. Giles has been performing these sales and use tax reviews for over 10 years and during that time he has yet to find a client he could not help. Over the past two years Agile Consulting Group, Inc. has recovered over $10M in sales and use tax refunds and credits for its clients. Agile Consulting Group, Inc. and Mr. Giles can be found online at http://www.SalesAndUseTax.com and http://www.TheAgileConsultingGroup.com.
Copyright © 2011, Aaron C. Giles. All rights reserved.