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Ice Cubes To Eskimos

Retaining Customers

How to get customers to buy again and again

If you're not getting repeat business--the same customers never buy from you time and time again--you're working way too hard. As any smart salesperson knows, the real profits come when past customers return to make additional purchases.

To make sure your customers are return customers, hungry for more, try following these tips from John Tschohl, author of Achieving Excellence Through Customer Service (Best Sellers Publishing) and president of Minneapolis Service Quality Institute:

  • Love your customers. "A customer knows within five seconds if you like and care about them, and they want to do business with people who do," explains Tschohl. "There's a tremendous amount of indifference in today's wealthy economy, but customers still want to be cared for."
  • Call them by name. "This is simple, but it's a magical tool," says Tschohl. "People love it when you call them by name, and they want to do business with people who know them." But just make sure to use the proper pronunciation. (His is pronounced "shoal.")
  • Focus on speed. "People want it now; they want immediate response," says Tschohl. "If you want to keep customers, you'll set standards for response times and keep working to do it faster."
  • Keep your promises. "Nothing turns off a customer faster than when you don't keep your promises, but nowadays few businesses do," says Tschohl. "If you say you'll handle it tomorrow, make sure it's done by then or sooner. Whatever you say you'll do, do it."
  • Make sure everybody has been trained in service. "It's not good enough when only the salesperson knows customer service," stresses Tschohl. "Everybody on your team has to know--and practice--service basics." A consistent commitment to serving the customer is key to winning repeat business.
Keep them coming back and begging for more-check out "Second Time Round" for more advice on winning customers.
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This article was originally published in the August 2000 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Ice Cubes To Eskimos.

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