Free-spending customers are essential for buoyant cash flow – keep them on your side to prevent the pipeline from drying up.
Cash flow challenges can be a thorn in the side of small businesses. A constant stream of revenue can soothe the pain considerably, and it’s having satisfied customers that gives you the best chance of keeping the taps turned on.
But in an environment of huge choice and fierce competition, how do keep your customers coming back for more? Check out these hints and tips to find out.
Make sure your service gives a smile
“All customers are valuable and it’s important you look after each and every one of them,” says Sharon Manikon, Customer Solutions Director, Barclaycard. “That means treating them well and making them feel important to you and your business.”
There are a few quick examples that can help you do this:
- Keep talking. If your customers call or email, get back to them as soon as possible. If there’s going to be a delay before you can provide what they need, let them know why. Maintaining open and honest contact builds good customer relationships.
- Maintain relationships. If your customer’s key contact moves on or changes roles, or if it’s clear their relationship isn’t working, make sure there’s a smooth handover and introduction to someone else. This helps ensure the customer feels cared for and isn’t left anxious through a break in service.
- Keep on top of project management. Don’t miss deadlines or present unexpected invoices. If there’s a problem with a project, let your customer know and agree next steps before making them.
- Stay up to date. Keep abreast of the latest developments in your customer’s field as well as your own. “If you can talk knowledgably to them about new developments or issues they may be experiencing – and perhaps even help them to solve problems – it will only enhance the service your offering,” says Sharon.
- Keep customer service consistent. And make sure it’s consistently good. If there are any lapses, find out why and remedy the situation.
Listen to your customers
No-one’s better placed than your customers to say how you’re doing. Whether you present a structured survey or review form, or simply make a follow-up call or send an email, show them their opinion matters.
And remember that the customer is always right, so don’t get defensive if the feedback is negative. Act on it and stay in touch so they can see you want to improve things for them.
Keep looking for new ones
Customers do sometimes move on, so factor this into your business plan. Have tactics in place that you can use to try to win them back, but also remember to keep looking for new prospects – even when times are good – to help maintain a flow of potential new customers should you need them.
And when you do find a new customer, consider them in terms of size, commitment and fit with your business before you take them on. If they don’t match up, there’s an increased risk of an unhappy relationship that won’t work for either party.
Let us help youIf you do lose a valuable customer a Barclaycard business credit card * can help you spread your business payments, and buy you the breathing space you need as short term help for your cash flow.
We prefer, however, to help you avoid losing customers in the first place by offering great service, like the easy payment options you’ll find in our range of payment acceptance solutions .
With everything from card terminals to online payment points, from traditional telephone payment tools to smartphone systems, we’ll help you make it easy for customers to pay.
*Terms and conditions apply. Subject to status and application.