Care for customers so they will take care of you

Published 8:10 pm Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Wouldn’t it be great if you could read your customers’ minds? Then you’d know exactly what each customer thought of your business — the quality of service, prices and hours you’re available — and you could respond accordingly.

Unfortunately, we can’t learn to be mindreaders, so it’s up to you to be proactive and make customers passionate about your business.

Cultivating customer loyalty means more than repeat business. The most powerful form of advertising remains word of mouth, one customer recommending you to his or her friends and colleagues. It’s a business-building principle.

Engage your customers in conversation to ensure you know what’s important to them. Ask them questions about their needs and opinions. Follow up with them after the sale to see how satisfied they are with your service and products. Every nugget of information makes it clearer to you what a winning business plan might be.

Put yourself in your customers’ place. Take an objective look at every element of the customer experience, from the appearance of your shop or website to the information you provide about your service or products. Observe your competitors and see what they do and what kind of experience they offer their customers. Be aware of what is successful in other business types to see what you might apply to your own customer experience.

Courtesy is contagious. Simply being friendly is not enough. Customers want informed help when trying to make certain decisions. Make sure your employees are knowledgeable and accessible, but also know when to back off and let customers ponder things on their own. Your website should be efficient for the knowledgeable customer while having helpful information for customers that need more.

Go the extra mile.  When you tackle a difficult problem — find that must-have item, meet a tight deadline or offer a creative suggestion — you have a customer for life, and someone who will recommend you to others.

Direct interaction with customers is an advantage small businesses have over the “big box” stores and large service providers. Today’s consumers expect a high level of service and fast response. Make this your competitive “edge.” How you connect with customers by phone or email will help your business stand out in your customers’ minds, if it is done thoughtfully and with the customer and his or her needs clearly in focus.

Make it easy for your customers to take care of you.


SCORE is a national, nonprofit organization that offers confidential and free counseling to small businesses. Locally, contact SCORE by leaving a phone message at 252-974-1848, by visiting the website at or visiting the office on Tuesday and Thursday mornings in the JobLink building, 1385 John Small Ave., Washington.