Many businesses make the mistake of chasing new business, without paying enough attention to their existing customers. These tips will help you reap the rewards of closer relationships with your customers.

  1. Produce a plan for all your key customers. What are their strategic objectives? Who are the key people and what are they trying to achieve? How else can you help them? How much revenue do you plan on generating from them in the next 12 months?
  2. Appoint a head of customer retention (even if it’s you). If someone isn’t responsible for looking after your existing customers, coming up with initiatives to help them, and reviewing performance against targets, then these things are much less likely to happen.
  3. Grade your customers. A simple ABC is a good starting point. Spend time with the A customers – the ones that you can really help (and are more likely to want additional products/services from you). Set rules on how often you want to communicate with each group. For example, take your ‘A’ customers out for lunch every month, make sure you’re meeting quarterly with your B customers, and ensure your all customers get a phone call every six months.
  4. Build rock solid relationships. For your key customers, this will ideally involve multiple relationships within both their business and within your team. Otherwise, you’ll be in trouble if your single point of contact leaves.
  5. Network your way to success. Don’t just book one meeting when you visit a customer, arrange to meet up with other contacts within their business. Ask your current contacts who else they could introduce you to that might need your product/service.
  6. Organise events. Whether it’s drinks, a formal dinner, or a workshop with content, make sure you’re organising events that inspire and educate your customers and give you a chance to forge stronger relationships.
  7. Ask for feedback. Find out what they think of what you do. Which bits do they value and where can you improve?
  8. Work out your Net Promoter Score (NPS). Measure this regularly to see how you’re performing against your customers’ expectations.
  9. Tell them everything that you do. It’s important to take the time to educate your customers about everything you could do for them, even if you don’t think they’ll be interested. Sow some seeds about how you could help them in the future – you never know when these will come to fruition.
  10. Let your customers know you’re looking for more work. Don’t ever tell them that you’re busy. While you think that this is a sign of success, the danger is that they might think that you’re too busy for the next project. When they ask how you’re doing, tell them you’re doing really well, and then let them know you still have the capacity to take on the next project or order.
  11. Ask for referrals. Tell your customers that you’d love to work with more people like them and then make it easy for them to refer their contacts to you. Let them know what a good referral looks like, so they can be on the lookout for the perfect match. Imagine what would happen if each of your customers referred you to just one person in the next year.