SMILE Your path to customer success

If customers are the lifeblood of your business, how do you ensure they stay loyal?

A study by marketing guru Dan Kennedy found that the number one reason a customer stops doing business with a company is because they feel ignored, unappreciated, or taken for granted. This is probably not a big surprise, since he probably stopped doing business where he felt unappreciated. On the other hand, think of an organization that you enjoy doing business with. What is that company doing to maintain your loyalty? What are some of the ways you can translate those same sentiments to your customers?

It starts with a SMILE

Let’s consider this five-step process for customer engagement, loyalty, and retention using the SMILE process.

1.S=START right now. Often we hear a good idea and then wait until a more convenient time to start. There is no better time than the present, and the longer you delay, the less likely you are to take action. Today, commit to one activity that you can do to build stronger relationships with your customers. As Napoleon Hill, author of “Think and Grow Rich,” said, “Don’t wait: the timing will never be ‘perfect.’ Start where you are and work with whatever tools are at your disposal and you’ll find better tools.” as it advances.”

2. M = MAKE a list of your top customers. These can be the customers you like the most or the ones that are most profitable. Don’t feel obligated to include clients you don’t find fun working with. Face it, some customers are just more trouble than they’re worth. When you’re done with your list, add it to your top five prospects for ideas and dreams. Keep this list in a place where you can see it often, preferably every day.

3. I = Identify creative ways to stay in touch. Use a variety of communication methods: letters, notes, emails, phone calls, and/or faxes. Mingle. Aim to make your customers laugh (or at least smile) and you will be rewarded. When I was in medical sales, I used to bring surgical gloves full of candy. When I promoted my movie release, I sent out microwave popcorn in red and white envelopes to announce the red carpet premiere. Remember: the more unique and different your contact is, the greater the reward.

4. L = Look for additional ways in which you can be helpful. If you see an article in a newspaper or trade magazine that affects your business, clip it and send it to them. Email them links to interesting articles you find online. When you find that your client was quoted in a local publication. cut it out, laminate it and send it to him with a congratulatory note. Look for strategic partners that you can introduce to them to help them grow their businesses well.

5. E = Express Gratitude. Let your customers know that you enjoy working with them and that you appreciate their business. Don’t assume your customers know. Tell them, or better yet, send them a note. Emails are fine from time to time, but you should make sure that any handwritten notes or cards sent through the mail are also included. A token gift is always appreciated. When you let your customers know they matter, they will care.

In business as in life, a SMILE goes a long way.

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