Seven Ways To Gain Customer Share!

Here are seven ways for you to gain customer share!

 1. Ask for it. Think of reasons why your customer should use your services more often. Is it for preventative maintenance? Will it lengthen the life of a product or equipment? Does it promote better, more healthful living conditions? Is frequency less expensive?

Determine why your customer should use your services more often, or use more of your services, and then ask for the opportunity to be of more service!

2. Incent it. Give your customer a good incentive to use your services more often, or use more of your services. "Ms. Customer, if you're like most customers, you're going to use our services two times in the next 12 months. If you pay for both service calls in the next 90 days, you'll save $50 off the regular price, and you will be entitled to priority scheduling when you need our service." Or, "Ms. Customer, here's our Frequent User card. Every time we visit you we'll punch this card. Your 5th visit is free, providing that it occurs within 24 months." Or, "Ms. Customer, are you an American Airlines frequent flyer? We give 500 points when you use our service."3. Communicate more frequently with your customers.

Customers are not mind readers. They don't know all of the services or products that you sell until someone tells them. And since they do not have the minds of elephants, they won't remember your services/products unless you remind them! Most service businesses communicate with their customers only when the customer calls and requests service! Months go by without any contact from the business. If you want to increase customer share, keep your name (and list of services/products) in front of your customer. In between their service calls, make it a point to call or write them -- frequently!

4. Find out what you're missing. Have you ever asked your customers what more you could sell them?

    • "Ms. Customer, who cleans your draperies? Your furniture?"
    • "Ms. Customer, who replaces your filters in your heating system?"
    • "Ms. Customer, have you thought about outdoor lighting around your home?"
    • "Ms. Customer, what are you doing to keep your drains clean?"

    Customers only know what they know. They don't know there are other services/products you could provide to them. You've got to ask them. Have you ever thought of surveying your customers? Have you ever thought of asking them where they spend their money (for your products/services) if they don't spend it with you?

    5. Become friends with your customers. It might surprise you to know that a customer will call you this month for service, and in three months call your competitor. Why? There are many reasons, all of which have nothing to do with the quality of your service, or your price. The primary reason may be they simply can't remember your name and number. So they go to the yellow pages and call two or three companies in hopes of getting someone to come out and fix their problem, or provide the service. If a customer doesn't know you exist, you may be doing a good job of capturing customers, and a poor job of keeping them. Once you capture ‘em, you've got to befriend them. Once you become a friend, they don't forget how to get in touch with you. Of course if they only hear from you when they call you for service they're not likely to think of you as a friend.

    6. Train others to gain customer share for your business. It's better to train a technician and lose him, than not train him and keep him! If your business relies on technicians to interface with customers, you're making a serious mistake if you're not training the technicians as marketers. Of course, technicians are technicians. Who would ever think of a technician as a marketer? Most of them probably would not think of them as marketers. The word alone probably frightens them. But you can change that. In fact, you have to change it if you expect technicians to gain customer share for your business. Educate your technicians. Show them the value of increasing customer share. Give them words to use to ask for customer share. Create promotions for them to use when they're with your customers. And then, of course, incent the technician to gain customer share. Make it worthwhile.

    7. Build a customer database. Your most valuable asset as a business owner is customer loyalty. What are you doing to protect that asset? Every customer should be entered into your customer database. The database must include a profile of the customer. By studying the profiles, and extracting data from the customer database, you can make intelligent decisions about your business. Mostly, however, you can use the database to gain customer share. The database becomes your link to every customer.

    ©Copyright, 1998, John P. Hayes, Ph.D.

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    Customer Database

    All customer databases are not the same. Most folks I know like to use their POS system as a customer dbase. They tend to be severely limiting in their functions. Then there are CRM (Customer Relationship Managers) that tend to be robust. Small businesses tend to use:

    • Microsoft Office Small Business, Customer Manager
    • ACT!
    • Goldmine

    Got any suggestions on a great customer dbase system?

    Become Friends

    I don't know what I'm doing wrong but my friends still lose me once in a while. For example, their new assistant fills in and takes the order elsewhere because she just didn't know.

    I like the power of marketing and bribes - aka leave behinds. Free leave-behind materials with contact information can help cement those customer friendships. The name of one's business on them can remind customers where they can find a friend and great service.

    Ask For It

    That's a great way to start a discussion on gaining customers. Ask for the order. Ask for the opportunity to serve. Ask.

    Good comment. 


    Don't forget to network by asking for referrals and other key influencers in the purchase decision.


    Speaking of a CRM database program to help maximize sales, did you see the news today that Microsoft has unveiled two new products, Dynamics CRM and CRM Live ? Big enterprises have heard about these but now the intent is to move it as part of MS Office so that small business can use it.

    Oracle is closing in on SAP in the CRM market after its recent purchase of Siebel. And of course, we haven't begun to speak about what's available now in open source software.

    This is a market that is heating up and offers quite a bit right now to small business owners. The problem is that they and their franchise networks struggle knowing the technology that is out there.