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10 Effective Ways to Retain Your Customers

10 Effective Ways to Retain Your Customers

If you work in a job where you are responsible for sales, or if you own your own business, retaining your customers is one of the most important things. With all the technology we have, it is more important nowadays than it was 10 or 20 years ago. Why?

Because in today’s “Internet world,” your best customer is just one click away from your competition.

Building a good relationship with your existing customers can make a great difference in the growth of any business. The well-known fact is that it is 10 times cheaper to retain your customers than to find new ones. So it is well worth doing something about it.

To start with, forget about all those complicated techniques and CRM (Customer Relationship Management) techniques.

By far the best way to retain your customers is to think of them like of your spouse or your friends. Do you remember what have you done to your spouse in order to win her or his heart? If you do, then you are your way to retaining your customers for life.

1. Give your customers extra value

When dating, remember how willing you are to do just anything imaginable on this planet to improve your partner’s life? You take extra care, just to make sure your partner was happy.

Think of improving your customer’s life by adding some extra value.

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One of the great ways to add extra value to your customers and which won’t cost you a fortune is to give them useful, free information which can drastically improve their lives. This could be done in the form of a free e-book or a free video bootcamp. For example, if you sell heating devices, write a free e-book on how to save money on central heating, or if you are an internet marketer create a free video bootcamp on how to improve a list building strategy.

2. Remember anniversaries

Your spouse remembers your anniversary, so you better remember it too (if you don’t want to risk some serious talks).

Your customers also have their anniversaries or special days.

The best surprise you can make is sending a message or a postcard to your customer for his or her birthday. If you don’t have this data, then you can send a nice message thanking them for their purchase or business on the anniversary of the first time they did business with you.

3. Surprise your customer

Life can be dull if there are no surprises, when everything is predictable.

Remember how happy your spouse was when you brought a bouquet of flowers home on a regular working day, with no particular reason? Or, what a surprise you made when you prepared an exceptionally nice dinner with all these candles on the table for your friends?

To retain your customers don’t think of them just when you are preparing your new offer. Call them sometimes just to say hello and ask them how life is going. And don’t talk about your product or service. They will definitely remember your call and they will buy from you again because they will feel somebody is taking care of them.

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If you have a large database of customers, send them a personal message just to remind them you are thinking of them. Some life quotes work nicely, especially if you add a personal comment.

4. Try to be less formal, more personable

Of course, some businesses have to be formal to be credible. But even behind a very formal business, there are still people. So why not finish your next letter with “Have a sunny day” instead of a well worn-out “Best regards”?

5. Find out something you have in common

Find out at least one thing you have in common with your customer on a personal level. It could be that you both have a dog. Dog owners always make a strong connection with each other. There is always so much to say about dogs. It could be a hobby, a preferred dish, whatever as long as you both enjoy doing or having it.

Finding something personal you have in common with your customer could be a big winner and also a very enjoyable way to retain your customers.

6. Speak on a personal level

People are striving for a personal touch. They are tired of the corporate, lifeless attitude.

Telling your customers about some of your personal experiences can make a big difference. It could be just telling them how you spend your weekend with your family on a trip to the mountains or how your kids were competing in a dance tournament.

Things are changing even in big corporations. A few months ago Apple’s CEO, Tim Cook, openly confessed he is a gay. What happened after that?

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Financial Times selected him for Person of the Year–not just because of his great work at Apple but also because of his open-minded speaking of his personal life and not fearing rejection.

7. Be straightforward

To be straightforward is a  delicate thing but it could win your customer’s heart.

Just remember times when you have told your spouse exactly what you thought and it happened to be just the opposite of her opinion. Okay, it didn’t always work very well but then again she might appreciate you more for your honesty.

Sometimes taking this kind of risk pays off when you want to retain your customers.

Let’s say you have a fashion boutique and a customer wants a skirt you, as a professional, think doesn’t fit her. Tell your customer what you think in a polite way and your customer will probably appreciate your honest opinion. You could follow up with a suggestion for a different skirt that you think would look great on her.

Forget the old saying, “Customer is king”. Nowadays you will do better if you think, “Customer is friend”. And if you are a real friend, when necessary, you say things as they are.

8. Ask your customers what they think of your service or product

To successfully retain your customers, you must constantly improve your service or product. Ask your customers how they would rate your service or product from 1 to 10. They will appreciate it because they will feel you take seriously their opinion.

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You can even send out comment cards or email your customers for anonymous feedback. There are great online services that will help you track your customer’s responses and get the feedback you need to improve. Don’t stop improving.

9. Give your customers bonuses

Bonuses always work and they are a great way to retain your customers. They work much better than discounts.

When you put a discount on your product, you are telling your customer that your product is not as good as you thought it to be. But when you give your customers a bonus, something extra, they see it as getting something special and so they feel special, too.

10. Be an interesting person

Think again of your efforts to win the heart of your spouse: Your spouse liked you (and hopefully still does) because of your character, because she or he likes the way you talk and the way you think.

You need to understand that your customers buy you first and only then your service or your product. When trying to retain your customers bring out your personality.

So, the next time you write an email or pick up the phone to contact your customer, think about what works great in your relationship with your spouse, or your friends, and you will not just successfully retain your customers but you will also enjoy the process.

Featured photo credit: Adult Bag Bags Buy Buyer Consumer Customer Cute/PublicDomainPictures via pixabay.com

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Last Updated on December 5, 2018

How to Lead a Team More Effectively and Be a True Leader at Work

How to Lead a Team More Effectively and Be a True Leader at Work

Being an efficient manager and a charismatic boss at the same time can seem like an impossible task. Is there a way to deliver the desired results for your business while remaining liked and respected by your staff?

We all know bad examples of team leaders who seem to fail at one aspect or the other, or even at both. But we’ve also heard of awesome managers who seem to juggle both things well enough.

How do they do it?

By sticking to few proven ways that let them maintain a positive karma score while remaining efficient. In this article, we’ll guide you through 11 smart management tips on how to lead a team and become something more than a boss – a leader.

1. Find a Management Strategy and Stick to It

There’s nothing worse than a boss that keeps changing his or her opinions and assignments depending on their mood or a book they read this week. Chaotic decisions increase the insecurity and frustration of your team, so you better find your strategy and stick to it.

If you do find some new methods you want your staff to follow, make sure they don’t contradict the general direction you are taking. Otherwise, you risk making your team take one step forward and two steps back.

2. Set Goals​ and Track Progress in Reaching Them

Set individual and collective goals​ for your team and track the progress in reaching them. This might sound obvious at first, but too often we find ourselves stuck between daily customer requests and monthly reports, and the bigger goal or vision seems to fade away.

According to Elon Musk (and many other successful CEOs around the Globe), it’s crucial to have a clear and motivating aim to where the company is heading. His aim for the space transportation company SpaceX is “to make humankind a multi-planetary species”.[1] That’s a huge goal but the company is slowly moving closer to it by reaching smaller steps and milestones, like launching self-landing rockets. This is also a very inspiring and meaningful goal that helps employees endure the company’s extremely high expectations and 60 to 70-hour work weeks.[2]

Even if your goals are not as grand, setting and reaching milestones will give you a clear insight into the team’s overall efficiency and daily progress. With time, you will be able to see the weak spots and improve your results.​

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3. Demand Learning from Your Team

CEO of print on demand startup Printful, Davis Siksnans, believes that:[3]

“The key for a company going through rapid growth is to empower your employees’ self-development.”

His company with 500 employees spanning two continents demands a culture of learning and provides all the tools necessary to do it.

Their idea is –  as the company scales, people have to grow in their positions too, which means that they have to be constantly learning. Siksnans says:

“We try to hire people for what they might become, but they need to have that drive.“

Alternatively, you can provide educational courses for your employees or invite informal lecturers to educate and inspire your team. You can also encourage peer-to-peer learning by asking employees to teach their particular experience or skill to co-workers.

4. Invest in a Pleasant Work Environment

Studies show that a well-designed office environment can increase your team’s overall performance by as much as 20%. You’ll be surprised to see that even very small interior tweaks that don’t require major investments can improve your workers’ performance.

Some ideas for a more productive and pleasing work environment:

  • Invest in modern furniture – offer ergonomic chairs, standing desks, and individually arranged workplaces​.
  • Start an in-house library – reading for pleasure just 30 minutes a day is proven to be enough to become more effective at work,[4] improve focus, and deal with problems like depression and anxiety.​
  • Play jazzy office music – rhythmic background music will help workers feel more energetic and enthusiastic while doing everyday tasks.​
  • Set up entertainment or break rooms – being able to relax and have fun at work creates a strong commitment, helps employees relax and clear their minds, and boosts productivity.​
  • Bring in uplifting office decor – it’s been found that art in the workplace can boost productivity,[5] lower stress, and even encourage employees to innovate.​
  • Decorate the office with live plants for freshness and a welcoming feel. Furthermore, plants are found to ensure better air quality and increase workers’ productivity by 15%.[6]

5. Be Kind and Sincere to Your Team

Did you know that 50% of employees quit because they dislike working with their manager?[7] In fact, most times when people leave their jobs they actually leave their managers. Being friendly and sincere may not be enough to be a successful manager, but it’s a big part of it.

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Some ways to show you appreciate and care for your staff:

  • Celebrate the progress and achievements of your employees. And don’t be shy to simply say thanks.​
  • Talk to your employees regularly and really listen to what they have to say. Address their concerns, help them reach their goals and do your best to improve their work and daily life.
  • If you’re having a bad day, don’t pour out your stress and anger on the staff. Instead, try to recharge yourself by appreciating the achievements of your team and setting the next goals.
  • Try not to overload your team with work. Every company has rush periods when it’s okay to have more work than usual. But remember that people cannot work under prolonged pressure and stress.
  • Don’t be selfish – it can be very demotivating to see that the manager only focuses on what you can do for him and doesn’t care about your goals and well-being.​ As the CEO of Xerox Anne M. Mulcahy put it,[8]

    “Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person — not just an employee — are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled.”

Whenever you are having doubts about your kind attitude, remember – satisfied employees are productive employees which lead to satisfied customers and eventually – success for your company.

6. Offer Flexible Work Hours

The traditional Monday to Friday, 9 to 5 job is beginning to slip away. Increasingly more people are working remotely or having flexible work hours, and we can expect this trend to continue. To adapt to these changing habits and remain competitive in the labor market, more employers are offering the chance to choose your own work hours, work from home or even from another city or country.

Offering flexible hours is a powerful way to inspire your existing staff and give them intrinsic motivation. Why not let your employees choose their preferred working hours while keeping the 8-hour day? For example, night owls are unhappy and unproductive if they have to come to work before 10 AM, while others might prefer to start at 7 and finish earlier.

You can go even farther and hire remote workers – this way you’ll be able to recruit from a global talent pool and even save money on office expenses like desks, stationery, electricity, etc.[9]

7. Track Your Team’s Productive Time

Not monitoring your employees’ progress and efficiency can result in poor performance and slacking. Instead of letting things go with the flow, you should consider installing time-tracking software on your employees’ computers and see who’s doing great and who might need a productivity boost.

But don’t get it wrong – there’s no need to become big brother and watch every step your employees take. If you use the time-tracker as a spying tool, you will only see increasing suspicion and insecurity around you, and your employees’ happiness levels will drop.

On the contrary, choose software that allows employees to mark private time that won’t be tracked. In addition, consider these time-management tactics:

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  • Allow flexible work hours. (see Tip No 6)
  • Encourage breaks – studies show that employees who take regular breaks are more productive than those who don’t.[10]
  • Enable remote work to show your employees that you trust them and that they can work from home or even from another country (if they can maintain sufficient productivity).
  • Consider offering bonuses to your most productive employees (those who show productivity levels above 90 or 95%).

8. Use Only Constructive Criticism

Constructive criticism means offering valid and rational opinions about the work of others, involving both positive comments and remarks about what should be improved. Constructive criticism is usually expressed in a friendly manner rather than an oppositional one.

When you evaluate your team’s work, give them feedback that’s helpful, specific, and sincere. Don’t be shy to praise, but also be direct and even strict when necessary.

9. Don’t Give Special Treatment to Yourself

The boss’s actions are – directly or indirectly – observed by your team. This means that your employees look up to you and often mimic your attitude towards your work and the company – especially if your actions don’t show commitment. Nobody wants to work for a leader who doesn’t go all in or inspire motivation.

What you should do is lead by example. If you expect your employees to arrive at work on time and work 8 hours, do the same yourself. If you want them to show initiative, show it yourself and encourage others to do the same.

Jeff Weiner is the CEO of LinkedIn – a company of 3,000 employees that consistently ranks as one of the best workplaces with a 92 percent employee-approval rating.[11] Weiner’s workdays are reported to be equally long or even longer than those of his employees, allowing him to stay “extremely credible as a leader.”

10. Empower Your Employees

Here’s a common mistake many managers make:

They don’t motivate their staff and assume they simply love to work for their company.​ Such belief can result in painful losses for the company – especially these days when many companies are in desperate need of a reliable workforce.

Instead of directly thinking about bonuses and perks, consider intrinsic motivation. For example, enable flat organization in your team and listen to your employees’ ideas when they come up with opinions and suggestions. Your company might actually benefit a great deal from the feedback, and the unique ideas employees come up with.

You can also start an initiative where employees can freely share or pitch their business ideas to you or the founders of the company. If the idea is accepted by the management, the project can be developed, and the employee can have equity options.

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If people feel they have an impact in the company, they become more motivated, engaged and interested in the company’s growth.

11. Nurture Your Company Culture

Company culture is the personality of a company that defines the overall work environment and relationships between teammates. It also includes company mission, values, ethics, and goals.

Some examples of company cultures are the Horizontal corporate culture (collaborative and equal; popular among startups and free-spirited businesses) and Conventional corporate culture (a more risk-averse and hierarchy-based approach common in traditional companies).

However, you don’t have to stick to pre-existing boxes when creating your corporate culture. You might think of your team as a family, a sports team, or even a hippie camp if it fits your business and purpose. But keep in mind that by the time a company’s size reaches 20 employees, the company culture is set,[12] and any changes will need to be implemented in smaller teams.

Whichever personality you choose for your company, make sure to live by it and nurture it. Some things that might help:

Team building events, relevant books in your office library and proper on-boarding for the new employees to get everyone on the same page from the very beginning.

Be a Leader, Not a Boss

Using the words of Printful’s CEO Davis Siksnans, the ultimate goal is to “Hire great people who don’t have to be managed.”

However, when you do need to demonstrate some initiative and control, act as a leader rather than as a boss.

In other words, don’t be afraid to show the personality behind your role. And keep these 11 tips close to your heart.

Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

Reference

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