Want more customers? Instead of constantly chasing new customers, spend a moment thinking about the customers you served last month or last year. Where are they and why aren't you serving them today? Sorry to be the one to tell you, but your business was dumped (and you didn't even know it). Want to know why? Chances are one of the following things happened…
You were being difficult
If you are too hard to contact, don't answer the phone, or never have room in your schedule, then customers are going to get over you! Most people lead very busy lives and if a customer puts aside time to call up to make a booking, if a) you don't answer, or b) cannot fit them in within a reasonable timeframe, most are not going to work around you. They are on the phone now calling someone else because clearly it is just too difficult!
They felt unloved
Customers need to feel loved; they need to know they are important to you and that they are not just another number. You therefore need to pay them more attention, you need to listen to them, and you need to constantly reassure them that you can give them what they want. This comes down to your customer service attitude – but remembering (or tracking) their name, likes/dislikes, interests can go a long way to show that you care. There are simple, low cost gestures to make your customer feel loved – like sending them an e-card on their birthday (this makes them smile and lets them know that you remember them and that they are important to you). Also special occasion discounts on Mother's Day or Father's Day, Christmas, New Years and Valentine's Day are all going to help to make the customer feel happy and loved by you!
They were seduced by someone else
We all know that existing customers are so important to small businesses, but did you realise that by retaining 20% of your customers, you produce 80% revenue? Too often businesses are offering promotions for new customers, without focusing enough on existing and loyal customers. This is a dangerous way to operate because existing customers are not blind and will get jealous when they realise that new customers are the ones getting all the attention and special treatment. But more importantly, you have to assume that your competitors are trying to woo your customers with fabulous offers too. If you don't give customers a reason to be loyal, they'll soon start looking around at other offers and could easily be seduced by a better deal.
They didn't know you could do that!
Unless you constantly promote the entire range of your offerings, chances are that even your best customers don't know about some of your services or products. This gives them an opportunity to go elsewhere – and puts them at risk of leaving you permanently. For example, just say you get your dog washed by Business A, and you love their service and you're a loyal customer. But then you have a holiday coming up – so you book Fluffy in with a recommended dog-sitting service – Business B. They're a great company to deal with and it turns out that they also do great dog washing. (Pity for Business A that you didn't realise they also did dog sitting.)
The grass seemed greener (you didn't wow them)
To continually impress your customers, you need to look good, provide fabulous service, please them with your price points, and always keep things new and fresh. If you play old music in your salon, have hair all over the place, and have your employees take no pride in their physical appearance, your customers are going to be bored and un-impressed. Which of course results in them looking towards greener pastures. Don't fall into the trap of thinking that this is "just" one of your loyal customers, "wow" everyone that walks through your door.
You were distant (they just forgot about you)
Remember, people are busy and have a lot on their plates. They won't necessarily remember that you did a great job of fixing their car last year, so it's up to you to keep yourself front-of-mind. How about calling, emailing, or sending a letter reminding them that you cleaned their windows last season and you're in their area next week? Unless you follow up, chances are they'll be looking around for a local window cleaner who can please them at that time they notice the windows are dirty again. Set up a program of regular communications and your customer retention will improve dramatically.
You work hard to get new customers, so work hard to keep them!