Use K.I.T. and always keep in touch
by Larry Galler
I don’t care which business you are in, the best source of growth is your current customer base.
Those customers, if communicated with regularly and properly, represent plenty of future sales and referrals.Most business people believe that doing a good job at a fair price is enough to satisfy a customer and having satisfied customers is all you need to do in order to have them come back time and time again or renew contracts at renewal time.
I think that view is very shortsighted.
Quite honestly, I don’t believe having satisfied customers is good enough because there is lots of competition always promoting to take that customer away from you.
You want "loyal" customers, not "satisfied" customers.
· A loyal customer doesn’t go to the Yellow Pages to find your phone number – they have it in their address book.· A loyal customer doesn’t send out RFQ’s (Request for Quotation) to your competitors because they know they won’t get the quality or service they get from you. · A loyal customer won’t be "seduced" by a discount operation’s coupons. · A loyal customer thinks of your service as a "valued, personalized service," not a cheap — one company is pretty much the same as any other company — easily replaceable commodity. If one were to chart how much loyalty a "satisfied" customer has towards your company, it would probably be a 6 or 7 on a scale of 1-to-10.
Not good enough!
Sure, some will come back, but if you were able to elevate their level of loyalty then most will return.
What do you have to do to raise the satisfaction level from a 6 or 7 "satisfied" customer to an 8 to 10 "loyal customer?"Aside from always doing high quality work and giving your customers full value, the easiest, least expensive and most effective retention tool is to have a K.I.T. (Keep In Touch) system in place.K.I.T. is a systemized method of communicating with your customers on a regular basis.
It can involve telephone calls and mailing or emailing notes, newsletters, and seasonal flyers.
K.I.T. is the way you keep your name and knowledge of all your services in their memory bank with minimal effort. It is the way you can offer other retention tools like referral bonuses, frequency rewards (think "frequent flyer" programs), and news about your business.
K.I.T. will reap real dividends in word-of-mouth advertising, referrals, and building long-term relationships.
Since a K.I.T. system costs so little, takes so little time, and is so easy to implement, it is amazing that so few companies work at actively building long-term relationships using K.I.T.
When I have asked business owners about implementing a K.I.T. system the excuses I have heard are usually in three areas:
1. Lack of available time2. Lack of creativity (they don’t know what to do or how to do it)3. Lack of systems to get the job doneAll these excuses are easily overcome if you really want to build your business the easy way — on more repeat customers returning more often for more services.Here is a checklist to develop your K.I.T. Program:
1. Go through your customer and prospect lists. Mark those your company will Keep In Touch with (you probably have some in your lists who you will not want to include).2. Decide on your K.I.T. methods then create template material to use as communication devices such as phone scripts, newsletters, flyers, etc. Tip: Do not limit yourself to one type of communication. Not all people will respond to the same methods. As an example, some will not open an e-mail and others will never answer the telephone. Think of using a multi-faceted approach.3. Commit to Keeping In Touch with each of these contacts frequently — if done well, you can communicate with them as often as once a month but, at a minimum, do it at least quarterly.4. Schedule your communications well in advance5. Base your schedule around seasonal needs, holidays, weather patterns, school schedules, etc.6. Schedule a little time every week to work on your K.I.T. program… then do it! Your first opportunity to start a K.I.T. relationship is the moment you schedule their first job.
While on the phone, you can inform them that you will be sending communications (perhaps quality calls or surveys, special offers, newsletters) and then enter them into your database system.
This is the perfect time to ask for their email address if you will be using this low-cost, effective medium to communicate with your customers. Tip: Even if you are not using e-mail now, you will probably use it in the future so get their addresses at every opportunity.Immediately after that first service, send a "Thank you" note.
A more complete "New Customer Packet" would consist of a quality control call or survey (either by mail or e-mail) and a request for referrals.
Every communication at this stage goes right to their "memory bank" where they keep a mental address book of preferred vendors.
From this time on, this new, satisfied customer is on the way to becoming your "loyal" customer as you supply information of all your services, your seasonal special offerings, cleaning tips that can be utilized, your new staff members, new equipment and/or new services you have available.
Your customers will remember these topics better if you are always pointing out the benefits for them from your new services or equipment, perhaps a success story ("Mrs. Jones thought she would have to live with that spot in her carpet forever"), and any awards or certifications you have earned, etc.In surveys, companies that have an active K.I.T. program show increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.
It works for them and it will work for you, too.
K.I.T. is good business and it will pay off in a growing base of returning customers who will use you for more services, use you more often and refer you to others.