As business owners, we spend, on average, 7% of our profits on advertising to gain new customers. We also spend a great deal of our time figuring out who we are marketing to, where to find those customers, and evaluating the quality of our product. Then we overlook the customers we already have.
Pay Attention to Your Existing Customers
For instance, the other day I made plans to go to breakfast with my wife and in-laws at this cafe by my house. My wife and I had been telling them how great this place was and they were very excited to try it. As a web consultant I am always interested in what people are saying about other businesses on the web. That morning I had a minute while my wife was taking a shower and thought I would look and see what was being said about this cafe on google. The reviews were mixed; from “the food is great” to “I waited 40 minutes to get my food and when it came it was cold”.
Now, like I said, I go to this cafe often - usually as soon as they open as they do get fairly busy. This time, on the other hand, my in laws wanted to meet here about a half hour after they opened. My wife and I got there a little early, as we often do. There had been a few tables already seated but nothing crazy. The server was prompt and I let her know that we were waiting on others to join us. Now mind you, I have also worked in the food industry for 15 years. No problem, she got us coffee and filled it regularly as my wife and I admired the art on the walls. As we sat the place started to fill and by the time my in laws a grow your small business learn more about the creation of a business blog
grow your small business
learn more about the creation of a business blog
The food did take a little time to come out; however, this is a small place and they were pretty busy. I had ordered eggs benedict with smoked salmon, as did my wife. Immediately I noticed that one half of my muffin had a nice thick piece of salmon and a good sized poached egg. The other half, on the other hand, looked as if they had used the scrap pieces of salmon and the poached egg was not even half the size.
We began to eat and not long after that my father in law says his potatoes and eggs were cold - as were mine. Mind you, their prices are on the higher side for breakfast. Now, I am not one to complain, as I feel it does little to no good. They give a fake apology and ask what they can do to make it better. This time though, I felt it was my duty as I really like this place and they are privately owned. The waitress returns and asks “how was it”. I said “Well, honestly, not that good. “ I explained to her my issues, to which she replied “would you like me to discount your bill?”. I said “no, that’s fine, I just really like it here and thought you would want to know”.
Pay Attention to Online Reviews
The point of this is that on the google reviews 50% or more of the reviews were exactly that and they were going back a year or more. If they would have been reading these they would have been able to look into solutions to this. This is not an anomaly, take for instance, a bar that I often take clients (mainly because of its amazing local beer selections, which, as a home brewer I appreciate). Their google reviews are terrible, almost all of them talk about the lack of service, many saying they left before ever getting served. Again, these reviews span a year or more and still the same issues.
Stay Connected with your Customers
To me, being proactive is the way to win customers' business. Hence, you may notice that our sites are constantly being updated, fixing things we find to be not at their best. Also, we are always asking for feedback and take it very seriously. Why spend so much time, effort and money to find customers; if you are not going to do everything in your power to keep them. In this day and age there is no reason that you should not know what customers like and do not like about your business. With Yelp, Facebook, and Twitter, just to name a few sites, you can gain valuable insight into your customers.
Look, we all know that there are going to be things we just can’t control; so why not mitigate that which we can. The web is a never ending source for info - Free info, and all you need is to know is where to look. By now I think we all understand how to use google. If you don’t, this is definitely where you should start. If you spent even half the amount of time trying to keep your customers as you did looking for new ones, there is no reason you couldn’t cut your advertising in half.
Word of mouth is the best advertising you can get – it is free and it is trusted. Social media is your word of mouth, as are review sites such as yelp. If you were reading those reviews and commenting on those sites, people would know just how much they mean to you. Get a bad review or comment? Just say, “I am sorry to hear that you were unhappy on your last visit, if you give us a second chance, I personally will make sure that these issues are resolved”. Then do everything in your power to do so. Guess what? That person is probably going to rave about you, I know I would. Not to mention that everyone on that site sees how you handled this and have a deeper respect for your business. We all want to feel like we matter and as a good business owner, every customer should matter - so show it.