Customer loyalty is a pretty hard topic. I have had some AWESOMELY loyal customers, and I bet you have too. But our relationship with our customers is truly a business relationship. Sometimes we get too vested in a customer, only to be crushed when they decide someone out there is a better choice. Maybe it’s a price thing. Maybe it’s a change of scenery. Or maybe they were just not reminded of your value. Either way, it sucks.
I once had a customer I was doing weekly for about four years. Every single week. I knew her well, and she knew me well. She had a newer store, so it was nice to see how things were developing for her. She knew about my kids and my crew chief’s family. She was an awesome customer. Then one day, I got an email saying she no longer wanted our service. She had found someone else. She wasn’t far from our offices, so I ran down to talk to her. She said, “I’m sorry, but the new company had stopped and quoted $3 cheaper.” Really…$3 cheaper! I said, “Pam, if it was about 3 dollars, I would have gladly adjusted the price. Your relationship is worth much more than $3 to me!”
$3. Our relationship was worth less than $3 bucks. This happened early in my career, but it made me realize that this is all still business. Now, this is a pretty crazy example, but it just opens your eyes. I LOVE having an awesome relationship with customers. I love that I can have FANS, just not customers. But I still realize that the loyalties that we work so hard for are lost when it’s just business. So how do we get stronger relationships?
The main thing you could ever do for your business relationships is to be a person. This is always interesting to me, but be you. If you are running techs, let them build the relationship. Let them talk on the personal side of things. It’s harder not to use a friend than not use company XYZ…remember fans over customers.
The next thing you can do is focus on value. Anyone can be cheaper. Companies are always racing to the bottom. But it’s hard for anyone to create value for you. Why would anyone pick you? What’s your value? Not how much are you charging? But what do you bring to the table? I focused on the wrong thing for that customer who showed my relationship was worth less than $3 bucks. I got comfortable with the relationship over the fact that this is business. I didn’t tell her the VALUE of having me clean her windows.
Even tho I was WEEKLY, I didn’t stay relevant. I didn’t keep it in her mind. The $3 was at the top of her mind. This is a crazy one because it was weekly, but this comes into play when doing residential or commercial properties. The same reason you see Mcdonald’s advertise. It isn’t to tell people who they are; it’s to remind them that they are out there still. Stay relevant.
One of my issues in business is getting complacent with a long-term customer. Someone who I just think I don’t have to worry about. Once you have to worry about them, it’s too late. Keep in front of great customers. If you take their relationship for granted, they take yours for granted! The problem is that the squeaky wheel gets the grease, and some of your best customers don’t have any squeak to them.
You need to remain relevant to all your customers, even if you currently think you are. Remember, it’s cheaper to keep a customer happy than find a new one. Even if you only have time to worry about the whales, it’s worth it. Spend some effort staying in their mind and helping them remember why they love you!
Excellent reminders. Our customers are mostly hospitals, universities, hotels. We don’t route work or residential. We have had them for years. So, this article is a reminder to regularly keep in touch with those who hand out the work.
Yeah I’m not sure about what you’re saying. Doing a good job is staying relevant..in my opinion. I’ve been doing this for 34 yrs, and if someone lets me go for $3 then their relationship with me was superficial. I move on without a care. Most clients would not do that.
I started this business in 1980. I have dozens of stories just like this.
I did a Hardees Restaurant 2 times a month for years. Never raised this price once. A new WC Business started up, came in and quoted $10 per week below my price. They dropped me like a ton O bricks. 2 weeks later he raised his prices $5. 2 months later another $5. Then later he raised again above my price. They called and asked if I would come back at other old price. I said No. Loyalty is not rewarded.
I had a home owner who I never raised the price on for years. She was in her 80’s. She referred her sister to me and I quoted her sister at the regular price $8 per and she was outraged. She said you clean my sisters window at $7 per you can clean my at $7 each. I explained that I hadn’t raised her sisters prices to reflect the new price. She wasn’t having it and didn’t schedule.
Sad, but I thrive.