Recently we were talking to a business owner who has lots of new customers that come in but don’t seem to become regular customers. The new customers come in through special deals advertised online including Groupon/LivingSocial deals. The owner is concerned because a solid core clientele does not seem to be developing. The restaurant owner says: repeat customers pay the bills and are therefore crucial to any business.
So we set out to ask some service providers that we know have great repeat customers. On the pure service end was a hairdresser and on the product and service end was an electrician. In both cases a surprisingly common answer:
It seems so exciting to attract new customers, yet it is far more profitable to keep customers. And the underlying pride in the work they do, seems to be the reason for retaining loyal customers.
Here is what businesses seem to mean when they say “pride” in their work:
- They listen : First they really listen to the customer’s requirements/problem. Second, they try to uncover underlying needs that are not stated.
- They repeat what they understood: They repeat what they understood. Thus, in a “take pride” restaurant if the customer wanted the sauce on the side and not in the food- the waiter repeats this while confirming the order.
- Customer requirements are communicated internally: Going with the sauce example, the kitchen knows that the sauce is to be on the side. When food is served merely repeating a very minor request (sauce on the side) can simply charm the customer. This becomes very important if the server is different from the waiter who took the order.
- Do it right the first time: The initial time that “pride” businesses take in understanding customer needs, goes a long way in getting it right the first time.
- Stand by your work and service recovery: Yet mistakes can happen (e.g. at very busy times). “Pride” businesses stand by their work and fix mistakes immediately. Owning up to a mistake and making it right is called “service recovery” and that goes a long way to keep happy customers.
Happy customers come back, generate referrals through word of mouth and social media.As a bonus, happy loyal customers sustain the motivation of the “take pride in our work” team work of the business.