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Building a Lasting Customer Relationship

Item 1: How can a small business build lasting customer relationships?

One of the ways to do this is to let customers know that you care about them, not just during the purchase, but after. For example, send someone a follow-up letter with a business card and encourage them to call you with any problems or questions. Send customers a survey asking about their experiences with your company.

You can also build a customer relationship if you learn how to say ‘no’. When a customer asks you for something you cannot provide, the way you say ‘no’ will dictate whether or not you keep them. The way to develop a lasting relationship is instead of just saying ‘no’, say ‘That is not something we can do, but here is what we can do.’ You should also express empathy and demonstrate that you understand why they would value what they are requesting.

Item 2: How can a tenuous relationship be turned into a lasting relationship?

Take service initiative. Go the extra step and provide them with something they didn’t ask for but would appreciate. For example, when we send out a packet of information on our company, we always call to follow-up to see if someone received it. We don’t have other motives, and if we get voice mail we just leave a message. Another way to take initiative is to send a hand-written ‘thank you’ note when you close a piece of business, saying ‘I appreciate your business.’ You can also send clients or potential clients a copy of an article you thought would interest them or start providing a guarantee on all your products. A dry cleaner could take the initiative by replacing a missing button without the customer asking and then putting a note on the item saying they had replaced it.

Item 3: Can all relationships be lasting relationships?

Some customers have criteria you cannot fill so it is important to realize you cannot make everyone happy. Sometimes you have to realize what your niche is and then try not to be all things to all people. But with all of the customers you can serve, you should try to make them lasting. If you start believing that only certain clients have the potential to be good clients, you may lose out on a lot of potential business.

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