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Author Biography:

Geoffrey Michael  is a freelance writer specializing in business, marketing, personal finance, law, science, aviation, sports, travel, and political analysis. He graduated from the United States Air Force Academy and is also licensed to practice law in California and New Hampshire. He has 40 years’ experience in the successful management and execution of high-technology programs and also cofounded an aviation consulting firm. You can contact him at www.geoffreymichael.pro

Keeping Customers Satisfied
By Geoffrey Michael Friday, January 30, 2015
Without customers, you have no business.  A statement of the obvious to be sure, but how often have you interacted with a company that disappointed you in some way?  Sometimes it’s just the small things that turn you away from ever doing business with them again.

Without customers, you have no business.  A statement of the obvious to be sure, but how often have you interacted with a company that disappointed you in some way?  Sometimes it’s just the small things that turn you away from ever doing business with them again.

It costs money to attract customers, and once you get them, you don’t want to lose them.  The math is simple.  For the average business, it costs five times as much to gain a new customer as it does to keep an existing one.  While some amount of turnover is unavoidable, doing smart things to build customer loyalty will minimize marketing expenses and maximize profits.

First and Lasting Impressions

When you meet someone for the first time, you form an impression that will likely determine if you ever want to see them again.  This impression is even more important in business because the customer’s money is on the line.  Getting them to part with that money is the lifeline for your business.
What makes an impression on a prospective customer?  The answer is everything you do, from beginning to end of every interaction.  It’s everything the customer sees, hears, touches, smells, or tastes during that initial encounter.  There’s a lot riding on early perceptions so projecting a positive, successful image is critical.
A negative first impression is extremely difficult to overcome.  A bad meal at a restaurant means that customer probably won’t return.  Worse still, it will result in the kind of word-of-mouth publicity that you clearly don’t want.
Here are some of the things you can do to create a good first impression that will last indefinitely:
  • Look the part when meeting potential customers
  • Speak with authority and credibility about your products and services
  • Answer questions objectively and to the point
  • Present a clean, attractive, professional, organized, and safe work space
  • Train your employees in customer relations and service
  • Have an adequate and current inventory of products
  • Keep things smooth and simple
Creating a lasting, positive image is a key to your success.  There’s plenty of competition out there ready to take your customers away from you if you slip and stumble.  Establish your credibility in the marketplace and the word will spread, giving you the kind of advertising that money just can’t buy.


There are simple, common sense steps you can take to develop and promote customer loyalty.  Many of them cost nothing and only take seconds or minutes to accomplish:
  • Never take a new or regular customer for granted
  • Show your customers that their best interests are at the heart of your business goals
  • Tell your customers how important they are to you
  • Encourage your customers to return after every purchase
  • Learn enough about your customers to tailor your service to them individually
  • Encourage your customers to contact you when they believe your business can provide a special service or solve a unique problem – word will get around
  • Follow up with customers to check for accurately filled orders and timely deliveries
  • Handle complaints and problems promptly and effectively
  • Ensure that corrective actions have provided satisfactory resolution to the customer
  • Always remember that your established customers are your best customers because they require less expense and fewer deals

Complaint Management

Listen to your customers and encourage honest feedback on how you’re doing.  Customers are the least expensive and best business consultants because they’ll zero in on both the positives and negatives.  Record their feedback and consider devoting a section of your website for this purpose.
When responding to a complaint, show genuine concern and empathize with the specific problem that’s been identified.  Ask enough questions to fully understand the scope of the problem, and ask the customer for suggested solutions that might resolve the issue.  View it as constructive criticism and use it to design permanent improvements.
Customers expect you to act swiftly and responsibly, even if it means expending time and money on your part.  Construct a personal response that’s consistent with your established policies and procedures.  Act quickly and maintain a log that records the complaint, proposed solution, and date the action was taken.  If resolution is not immediate, keep the customer informed of progress until the issue is closed.  Follow up to ensure that the customer is pleased with the result.
If you’re fair and equitable in how you deal with each issue, customers will take note even if they don’t get 100% of what they wanted.  Treat them with respect and do the best you can under the circumstances and they’ll appreciate it and reward you with their loyalty.

Loyalty Programs

Most major airlines award frequent flyer miles to incentivize passengers to choose their airline over the competition.  Rewards cards are offered by restaurants and many other businesses for the same reason.  If these programs didn’t work, they wouldn’t exist.
Small businesses can launch similar programs on a smaller scale.  Design something unique to your business.  Even something as simple as offering discounts to customers who exceed dollar thresholds on their purchases will make them feel rewarded.
Other ideas include special contests, gift cards, free products, and a running “customer of the month” selection.  Publicize each program and officially recognize the winners.


Some amount of customer loss is expected and unavoidable, so there’s no point in agonizing over it.  The best you can do is to minimize those losses and keep improving your ability to maximize overall customer satisfaction.
The Internet has revolutionized the marketing world, offering businesses new and inexpensive ways to promote themselves.  It also offers customers the opportunity to provide real-time reviews of the products they buy.  Vendors who sell on Amazon and eBay rely heavily on those reviews, as well as reviews posted on sites like Yelp.
Word-of-mouth is no longer just neighbors talking to neighbors.  Purchasing decisions are being made based on online reviews that can make or break a business.  Superior customer satisfaction is the foundation for a successful business, so make it an integral part of everything you do.

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