Things That Service Businesses Should Know About Their Customers…

… And How to Remember Every Detail

If you have ever walked to a restaurant table and found your customary iced tea already at your favorite table, awaiting your first sip, then you know the magic of being a VIP. Even customers in line at a cash register appreciate seeing a gleam of recognition and a few friendly words during checkout. But, customers who order custom products or services need more to feel like VIPs. Even if you already provide high-quality products or services, customers who feel known and valued are the ones who keep coming back.

No matter how many marketing materials you create or social media accounts you set up, you will find that developing a true relationship with customers creates loyalty. If you want repeat business (and some referrals along the way), here are some tips to help you learn — and remember — more about your customers.

Service Businesses Need to Form Solid Customer Relationships

The relationship between service businesses and their customers is a collaborative one. Maybe you work over a long term to provide accounting services. Perhaps you must go through extensive back-and-forth reviews to develop custom software that meets customer expectations. Or, you might just need customer input to choose colors for their widget order. As long as your interaction is more than a cash register checkout, you must work closely with them.

Naturally, a stellar working relationship is vital; but, a great personal relationship will help you collaborate more effectively while helping to  ensure more business in the future.

When You Know Details About Customers, You Become a Friend

If you think about the relationship between you and your team, you know that friendship and camaraderie are important keys to your company’s success. Working together is more than just business talk; it’s about caring friendship. When you have a genuine interest in each other and share a laugh or two, you work together as a well-oiled machine.

Collaborative relationships with customers are no different, and they offer plenty of opportunities for personal knowledge, such as the following:

  • Product/service preferences: Of course, you need the ability to remember the specifics of your customers’ orders from one transaction to the next. You certainly don’t want to require them to repeat the obvious.
  • Important dates: Customers often place orders on a regularly-scheduled basis. Rather than hoping that they’ll call next year when they need new annual reports, you need an automatic reminder system that provides you with enough lead time to start the next job (and prevent them from trying out a new vendor). Similarly, discount offerings on your anniversary with customers show that you care.
  • Card- and gift-worthy information: Just knowing a birthday and sending a card (hand-written signature, please) can make a difference to your relationship. You get extra points if you send a card or even flowers when you hear that a customer is in the hospital, as long as you keep it appropriate to the injury or illness.
  • Personal talking points: When you call about a business matter and start by asking about a spouse (by name) or even how housebreaking is going with Cutesy the puppy, you turn a business relationship into a co-worker friendship.

But, how do you remember the details about each member of a growing customer base? Particularly with collaborative relationships, the chances are good that you need to deal with many people for each customer. The secret lies with  Customer Relationship Management.

The Magic of Customer Relationship Management (CRM)

CRM can be as simple as a contact list that contains notes about each customer. Or, it can be an elaborate software system. In this case, you most likely want an easy-to-use system that ties into your contact list and offers some or all of the following features:

  • Provides well-organized space for recording a variety of data and sharing it in real time
  • Allows you to keep track of important interactions and reminds you of scheduled activities
  • Has security features that keeps customer information safe while allowing you to share information with everyone in your company, share with some employees only or keep information completely private
  • Works on a variety of devices, in the office or remotely
  • Operates in the Cloud or on your computer network so that all entries are available to everyone in your company on a real-time basis.

Just search for CRM online to find lots of information, including reviews.

Once you set up your CRM, make it a habit to review customer listings before making contact. Your customers will be impressed by how much you remember about them. Even better, they will see you as a friend.

Friends Buy From Friends

When friends offer products or services that you need, don’t you try to give them your business whenever possible? This is the power of personal relationships, and it requires a bit of effort.

From a practical standpoint, it costs five times as much to acquire new customers as it costs to retain them, so you want to do everything possible to keep them happy. But, there’s a psychological benefit as well. Good working relationships make every day more enjoyable for everyone, including you and your team.

By all means, make good use of Facebook and other social media to engage with your customers. And, while there are notable benefits to these types of friendships, they don’t generally make customers feel like VIPs. When you extend the traditional hand of friendship to customers, they know the difference — and reward you with loyalty.

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