The American businessman and author Michael LeBouef once said, “A satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all.” Isn’t that the truth?
You could say that a satisfied customer is your best customer, and that would be mostly correct. A happy customer not only has the chance of returning for future purchases, but he or she can tell their friends and family about their positive customer experience, resulting in free, organic, word-of-mouth advertising.
But “happy” and “profitable” aren’t always the same thing. While no one wants unhappy customers, the key to long-term success lies in attracting the right type of customer - and keeping them happy.
Who Are Your Best Customers?
Sounds like a trick question - but “best” means different things to different business owners. If we look at this question from a quantitative perspective, your “best” customers would likely be those who spent the most money with your company. Breaking this down, these customers would:
- favor more expensive products or services,
- have fewer questions or complaints
- rarely return products or ask for service refunds
- make quick and decisive purchase decisions
If we look at this through a qualitative lens, it may look a bit different. You may own a business, but you are still a person selling a good or service to another person. Some of your customers may be really appreciative for what you do for them, and they may tell you so. Perhaps they even refuse to shop anywhere else and tell everyone who will listen about how great your company is. They could be considered some of your best customers as well.
Where Do Your Customers Come From? And How Do They Find You?
The answer to this question would likely be dependent on the nature and scope of your business. It also pays to zoom in on this question in detail. If you run an online business, it’s probably not too helpful to answer this question with “the internet” and “Google.” You should try to dig deeper and attempt to reverse engineer your customers’ thought and search process. Including a single question questionnaire (where did you hear about us? / how did you find us?) at the end of each sale would be one way to help with this.
Why Do They Choose You?
Often when sales are lagging, business owners take steps to investigate why that is happening. But doing the inverse can be just as helpful. As a business owner, you can try to surmise what you are doing correctly when your sales are soaring. Each one of your customers, out of all the other services and distributors out there, chose your company. It would behoove you to try to figure out why they did; you could (and should) even ask the customers themselves, as their answer might not be what you had in mind.
Who Do They Know?
This can seem like difficult information to obtain, but with a little logic, and some small talk, you could come away with some potential answers. Frequently, people travel in social circles that feature common characteristics. People of a similar age (with the exception of family) typically socialize with other people in their age range. Those who share the same profession often mingle with each other, either through work or outside of it; you could glean these details from asking your customers about themselves. Geography is another factor. Due to proximity, people will often converse with and spend time with their neighbors, giving them an opportunity to mention your business if it was to their satisfaction.
What Would Prompt a Referral?
There are several factors that would cause one of your customers to refer someone they know to your business. Chiefly among these is excellent customer service. When people are buying your products or services, they are not just buying a product, in a way, they’re buying you. Other things that could prompt a referral are low prices, free shipping, and high product/service quality.
When Would They Be Likely to Buy Again?
Though this is largely based on the context of your industry, it doesn’t hurt to put yourself in your customers’ shoes. If it’s a consumable or collectible that they’re purchasing, they would probably be likely to buy again in the near future. On the other hand, if it’s a seldom-used service or a non-consumable essential item, then they’re likely going to wait a lengthier period of time before making another purchase.
With all of that being said, there are still some questions that you should consider asking yourself if you’re a business owner.
How many of your customers fit your ideal target?
- Once you’ve identified what your ideal customer looks like, it would be constructive to evaluate your existing customer base using that criteria, so you can take steps to turn more customers into your best customers.
How often do you appear where your customers are looking?
- Being able to reach your potential customers when they are looking for a particular good or service that you offer is a vital first step in getting them to buy from you.
How well does your marketing strategy convince potential customers of your ability to meet their wants and needs?
- This is the next logical step in the advertising process, after making sure your potential customers can see you. Your marketing has to do more than just flash in front of them, it has to reach them, grab their attention, and make a compelling and convincing case for you and your business.
What is the best place to find other customers like the ones you have?
- As was touched on previously, demographic and geographic factors both play into who else might enjoy your product or service.
How can you incentivize your potential customers?
- A little incentive can go a long way. You could offer discounts on initial purchases, free shipping, free trials if it’s a service, or even facilitate word-of-mouth advertising with a shareable coupon.
How are you remaining at the forefront of your customers’ minds when they are most likely to be in the market for your product or service again?
- This step requires forethought, planning, and evaluation. Most products or services have a “peak” season. For lawn care services, this is typically from the spring through the fall, similarly, wedding planning is usually the busiest from May through October. Knowing your business and your industry and thinking about how to capitalize on the time period when most of your customers will be in the market can prove to be a crucial step in your company’s growth and sustainability.
Fill in Knowledge Gaps
Chances are, you already know a lot about your business, your industry, and your customers. But there’s always more to learn, especially in the ever-changing, fast-paced world of business. Being able to expand your knowledge can really help your business reach its full potential.
Identify Biggest Opportunities
If you’ve learned more about your business, industry and customers, now is the time to take an optimistic look at the chances to grow that your business will inevitably have. Whether this means capitalizing on seasonal buying trends, increased customer demand, or newly available products or service innovations, you can use this information and these circumstances to advance your company.
Look for Quick Wins, and Small Victories
If your business is seasonally focused, or if circumstances outside your realm of control have altered the landscape, you can be faced with some difficult challenges. But, as a business owner, you’ve surely had to rebound from tough situations before. You can draw on that experience, and utilize some of the strategies we’ve discussed above to earn some wins, however small, for you and your business.
So much of owning a business is like life, learning as you go, and implementing that knowledge quickly to further your success. Life, like business at times, is mainly about the people involved in it. Sure, your products or your service matter greatly, to you and your customers, but what your business offers merely serves as a conduit to bring people together. Think about it: someone has a need, and you, thinking about what other people might need, looked to fill that need. That person who originally had that need now has their need fulfilled, all because you had the foresight, wherewithal, intelligence and determination to make it happen. So, while quantitatively, it makes sense to attempt to make all your customers like your best customers, there’s solace in knowing that, if all of your customers were more like your best qualitative customers, that wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world either.