July 25, 2011 | Print this Page.

Are your customers satisfied with your company? Or are they very happy? There is a difference. Satisfied isn't enough to hold on to them. They can easily switch if they notice problems with the product or service, or something better comes along. Going the extra mile will help improve customer retention turning them into lifelong customers who will talk about your business whenever they can.

Apply the Under-promise, Over-deliver (UPOD) Method

In How to Turn Customers into Loyal, Raving Fans, Mike Michalowicz writes"... there's actually a simple shortcut to knocking their socks off every single time – and it won't cost you a dime. It's the 'under-promise, over-deliver' (UPOD) method." He explains why and how companies need to shoot for more than having "satisfied" customers. In doing so, be sure you're solving their problems.

How can you put UPOD to work? Start by telling customers what to expect. Figure out when you can deliver your product or service without any problems. Don't give them that date. Instead, quote a few days later.

If you can deliver it on Monday, tell the customer to expect it on Friday. Come Monday, you'll customer will be surprised to hear the order is ready. All you need to do is change your promise. Besides, things happen and you have room for those unexpected things. Better to be on time than late.

Create a Survey

Scott Stratten, author of Unmarketing, says that most customers don't complain when something is wrong or bothers them. Instead, they hope the problem fixes itself. If it doesn't get better, then they switch. Creating a "Stop Start Continue" survey will help you see where you stand with your customers.

Here are the three questions that Stratten (2010) suggests including in the survey:

  1. What should we stop doing?
  2. What should we start doing?
  3. What do you think we should continue doing to ensure we not only meet but exceed your expectations?

The nice thing about these open-ended questions is the flexibility. Clients can write as much or as little as they want. You're not asking them questions that would take a long time to answer, but you get more information than a yes / no question would provide.

The survey questions also open dialogue between you and your clients because you will follow up with them after they respond. First, you'll acknowledge them and thank them for responding. Then, you'll follow up again to discuss their responses after you've had a chance to analyze them.

If you don't yet have an answer to a problem, don't wait to update the client. Instead, let the client know you're working on it and will provide updates when you make progress.

Review Business Priorities

Marketing, chasing payments, bookkeeping and your core business tasks probably fill your entire day. Doing a survey and following up with clients doesn't feel urgent compared to all of these. However, these activities can prevent losing customers.

Imagine how much more marketing you'll need to do if you start losing customers. It's easier to retain current clients and keep them as happy as possible. On top of that, your current clients are your best advertisement. If that's not enough to convince you, have you figured out how much your customer is worth?

Isn't this worth finding 30 to 60 minutes per week to focus on checking in with your clients? Have you considered outsourcing tasks that aren't core to your business? What other ways can you find more time? What about delegating some of your tasks to others and empowering them?

Stratten, S. (2010). Unmarketing. Stop Marketing. Start Engaging. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Are your customers satisfied with your company? Or are they very happy? There is a difference. Satisfied isn't enough to hold on to them. They can easily switch if they notice problems with the product or service, or something better comes along. Going the extra mile will help improve customer retention turning them into lifelong customers who will talk about your business whenever they can.

Apply the Under-promise, Over-deliver (UPOD) Method

In How to Turn Customers into Loyal, Raving Fans, Mike Michalowicz writes"... there's actually a simple shortcut to knocking their socks off every single time – and it won't cost you a dime. It's the 'under-promise, over-deliver' (UPOD) method." He explains why and how companies need to shoot for more than having "satisfied" customers. In doing so, be sure you're solving their problems.

How can you put UPOD to work? Start by telling customers what to expect. Figure out when you can deliver your product or service without any problems. Don't give them that date. Instead, quote a few days later.

If you can deliver it on Monday, tell the customer to expect it on Friday. Come Monday, you'll customer will be surprised to hear the order is ready. All you need to do is change your promise. Besides, things happen and you have room for those unexpected things. Better to be on time than late.

Create a Survey

Scott Stratten, author of Unmarketing, says that most customers don't complain when something is wrong or bothers them. Instead, they hope the problem fixes itself. If it doesn't get better, then they switch. Creating a "Stop Start Continue" survey will help you see where you stand with your customers.

Here are the three questions that Stratten (2010) suggests including in the survey:

  1. What should we stop doing?
  2. What should we start doing?
  3. What do you think we should continue doing to ensure we not only meet but exceed your expectations?

The nice thing about these open-ended questions is the flexibility. Clients can write as much or as little as they want. You're not asking them questions that would take a long time to answer, but you get more information than a yes / no question would provide.

The survey questions also open dialogue between you and your clients because you will follow up with them after they respond. First, you'll acknowledge them and thank them for responding. Then, you'll follow up again to discuss their responses after you've had a chance to analyze them.

If you don't yet have an answer to a problem, don't wait to update the client. Instead, let the client know you're working on it and will provide updates when you make progress.

Review Business Priorities

Marketing, chasing payments, bookkeeping and your core business tasks probably fill your entire day. Doing a survey and following up with clients doesn't feel urgent compared to all of these. However, these activities can prevent losing customers.

Imagine how much more marketing you'll need to do if you start losing customers. It's easier to retain current clients and keep them as happy as possible. On top of that, your current clients are your best advertisement. If that's not enough to convince you, have you figured out how much your customer is worth?

Isn't this worth finding 30 to 60 minutes per week to focus on checking in with your clients? Have you considered outsourcing tasks that aren't core to your business? What other ways can you find more time? What about delegating some of your tasks to others and empowering them?

Stratten, S. (2010). Unmarketing. Stop Marketing. Start Engaging. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

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Excellent tips - so many

Excellent tips - so many small businesses stagnate and don't do sufficient research to find out what isn't working. Great post.

Gene Marks
www.twitter.com/genemarks

Thanks for reading and

Thanks for reading and commenting, Gene. Any suggestions on how businesses can make this a regular part of doing business?

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