“The best advertising you can have is a loyal customer spreading the word about how incredible your business is.” – Shep Hyken
The simplest and fastest way of growing the customer base of any company is by retaining the existing ones. Customer retention is a lot easier and cost-effective than attracting new customers, already distracted by the plethora of choices and offers in the market. Companies that take the time to know their customers, will be better equipped to give customers exactly what they need and want, thereby consistently enhancing customer satisfaction and happiness levels. The happier these existing customers become, they would be more likely to provide repeat business, while also being willing to spread the positive word of mouth, encouraging others to engage in business with the company.
Growing the customer base for any company therefore, is usually a two-fold approach. One would be to retain existing customers, and the second would be to build a sound reputation such that the new customers the company seeks would readily wish to associate with it for business. Searching actively for new customers is a never-ending activity for companies – irrespective of size or industry. However, it is imperative for companies to remain sensitive and attuned to the needs and requirements of their existing customers, respond to them speedily, and resolve their issues in a timely manner. It is imperative that companies actively listen to customers – this means listening with the intent to understand and speedily act on whatever customers wish to convey by way of their needs and requirements. Growing the customer base is about managing the expectations of the existing customers, and promising only whatever the company would be capable of delivering on, or at least build capability to meet additional requirements before promising. Companies that over promise and do not deliver, are sure to lose credibility and market reputation, which in turn makes the job of growing the customer base even tougher.
The idea of an association with a company for any customer is to build business, and become increasingly successful. Companies that proactively help their customers to meet these needs are the ones that would not only be able to retain existing customers, but would find it easy to gain a lot more customers, thereby growing the customer base rapidly and steadily. Helping customers in every way is essential to building long-term associations. It is also about thinking from the customer’s perspective – understanding which products and or service would make it extremely easy for a prospective customer to run their business – products without which the target customer would not be able to manage. If a company’s offerings become part of the customer’s work routine and business, a long association would be certain.
Growing the customer base rapidly happens when a company is able to keep pace with the evolving and changing needs of its existing and target customers. True customer service is about a company’s willingness to remain adaptable and agile, and proactively understand the needs and expectations of its customers. Companies that can provide tailored solutions for the dynamic needs of customers will ensure that they remain relevant and sought after by existing and new customers. Growing the customer base for any company is not hard as long as it can provide more than and differentiated offering when compared with everyone else in the market.
Growing the customer base, as mentioned, is a factor of retaining existing customers and finding new ones. A company must be able to divide its time proportionately between both these critical areas in order to build a larger customer base fast. The fact is that there could be changes in the situation of long-term and other existing customers. This could lead them to stop the association for a number of reasons – and rather than scrambling around to cover the loss of business then, a company must be smart enough to look consistently for new partnerships. It is also imperative for a company to build engagement and trust even before it begins a new association with a customer, such that it is able to alleviate any doubts and apprehensions that a new customer may have.
Existing happy customers have the potential to become brand advocates. However, it would be important for a company to first offer them top class customer service, and great experiences each time they interact with the company. Doings will ensure that existing customers remain, and over time become loyal. Research shows that over 78% customers abandon a sale mid-way owing to poor customer service – the converse of this then would also be true. Great customer service has a lasting and positive impact on customers, which in turn means that they would be willing to spend more, and over time when they do become loyal, they would be worth at least ten times the amount they began spending at the start of the association. Many companies put service strategies in place, but make the fatal mistake of not monitoring them, which as a result leads to service lapses and unhappy customers. It is important to ensure that there is a dedicated and trained team managing customer queries, such that customers receive efficient and prompt responses consistently.
Most companies acknowledge that a large part of their business comes from customer testimonials and referrals. Recommendations work like a panacea for growing the customer base – since the positive word of mouth of an existing customer means that the company is worthy of trust. It is also important for the leaders of a company to network with like-minded people and the customers of the company. These face-to-face interactions encourage engagement, and make it easier for a company to understand directly from the customers as to what it is doing well, and what more it can do to keep them happy. A customer-company relationship must be based on honesty, openness, and integrity – and personal interactions are a great way to allay doubts and fears since customers are able to put a face to a name and voice.
No company can exist in a vacuum – the market demands inter-dependence, which means that companies, must collaborate with other companies to offer added services to their customers. Not only will a company please its existing customer base, but would also be able to grab the attention of new customer bases – those who would be interested in the added services the company provides. Companies must constantly be on the lookout for new opportunities and partnerships with other market leaders – the collaborative effort and joint customer base of both companies would lead growing the customer base for all those involved.
Growing the customer base can be easy or hard – it depends on the mind-set and approach of a company. It is necessary to keep an open mind – accepting new ideas, or looking at old ideas in a new way. The fact is that the better a company becomes, the more likely that it would receive referrals – and the new customers would be people with different ideas and thought processes. They could bring in hitherto untried methods, but would expect your company to adapt and produce results all the same. New approaches and methods work if a company implements them well, and is able to monitor them judiciously. With time, a company must continue to refine its approach and processes, such that growing the customer base becomes an easy and extremely cost-effective endeavour.