Keeping existing customers is much less costly and time-consuming than obtaining new customers, so it’s important to make the effort to build and maintain good client relationships. This is especially critical for startups and small businesses. When you only have a few customers, it’s doubly important to keep those customers happy. Focusing on customer relationships early on makes it easier to maintain good relationships as your customer list grows.
Maintain Clear Communications
You can proactively prevent a lot of mistakes by maintaining clear communications with customers or clients. Be precise when communicating with customers so that they have proper expectations. This lets you avoid awkward situations, such as a customer complaining about some issue not having been resolved in a timely fashion and then having to explain that when you said it would be taken care of within five days, you meant five business days.
Establish the habit of clear, precise communication to maintain good customer relationships and cut down on potential problems with employees or vendors.
Get Your Employees Involved
Cut down on mistakes by getting regular feedback from employees on ways to improve operating procedures. The people who work in a given department generally have the best awareness of where and how problems in that department tend to arise; if asked, they can often provide simple solutions that reduce errors and improve operating efficiency. For example, there may be a problem with order forms that makes it difficult to process customer orders properly. Have a system in place, such as departmental meetings, for obtaining regular input from employees regarding potential problems and solutions.
Avoid Money Mistakes
Mistakes involving money, such as billing or payment credit mistakes, are some of the most harmful in terms of maintaining good customer relationships. Good, solid accounting is one of the keys to building your small business successfully. Reduce money mistakes by having detail-oriented people handling your company’s finances and by using a top-notch accounting software program that makes it easy to enter, track and record all transactions accurately. Regularly back up financial records. Small business accounting software such as QuickBooks offers a quick and easy backup procedure.
When Mistakes Occur
Go the extra mile to make up for a mistake when one occurs. This can reap huge rewards in terms of solidifying customer relationships and engendering customer loyalty. When you do more than what’s required to repair a mistake, this often creates stronger customer loyalty than if you had never made a mistake in the first place. For example, if your shipping department sent the wrong item to a customer, don’t just do the minimum of shipping the correct item – ship it overnight, totally free, no charge for the shipping or for the item. Exhibiting that kind of attitude – taking action that shows your regret for the mistake – goes a long way in establishing trust with a customer, who can feel assured that whenever a problem arises, you will address it immediately and do more than just fix it.