Internet - The World Wide Web
Creating Customers For Life
“Once a customer, always a customer!” Wouldn’t it be nice if that were always true! But we all know it isn’t. Future transactions and referrals have to be fought for almost as hard as the initial transaction. What transpires during the reinforcement stage determines, to a great degree, whether you will be enjoying a one-time relationship with your customer or whether the customer will become a repeat customer and—even more important—recommend your firm to their friends and associates.
The reinforcement stage is especially important to your firm’s profitability because, time and time again, it has been proven that repeat customers are less expensive to advertise to and—hence—more profitable to sell. The generally mentioned statistic is that it costs seven times as much to sell a new customer than an existing one. This is especially true now with e-mail, since you can advertise to repeat customers without incurring any media, printing, addressing, or postage expenses.
The reinforcement stage is also valuable because it provides you with an opportunity to avoid buyers remorse, which often leads customers to try to return a previously purchased item. More important, the reinforcement stage provides you with opportunities to sell additional products to a customer—enhancing their original purchase. Finally, marketing to customers during the reinforcement stage makes it easy for you to cultivate word-of-mouth referrals among their friends and coworkers.
Start with a Thank-You
The impact of thank-you messages can be enhanced by offering a premium—something for free. Coupons worth special savings on future purchases work especially well as they give customers a reason to make an additional purchase. Premiums build future loyalty: everyone loves to receive something for free! Often, the thought is more important than the actual value of the product.
The choice of premium depends on the selling price—and profitability—of the original purchase. The best premiums are electronic, that is, they are instantly available and do not require postage and mailing. Ideally, the premium should reflect the firm’s personality (screen savers of healthy pets at play would make an ideal premium for a veterinarian).
Customer Satisfaction Survey
Responses to the customer satisfaction survey can provide you with statistical evidence you can use during the comparison stage to prove the claims you have made regarding your firm’s superior products and service. The customer satisfaction survey can be the source of numerous, powerful customer testimonials that personalize your firm and enhance your credibility and prove your firm’s ability to perform.
The customer satisfaction survey can help you monitor and solve the inevitable customer service problems that occur. Miscommunication, shipping or delivery problems, and other problems occur in even the best-run firms. Usually, they go unnoticed as customers typically complain only about the worst transgressions. A customer satisfaction survey, however, can provide customers with a way of bringing problems to light so you can solve them.
Often, what matters most in creating a satisfied customer is not whether a problem occurred, but whether the firm made any efforts to solve the problem. Over time, customer satisfaction surveys make it easy for you to identify areas in your firm needing fine-tuning.
The reinforcement stage is where you can most easily separate your firm from the numerous online and warehouse-style firms that compete primarily on price. Most Web commerce firms fail to build customer loyalty by seeing each sale as the end rather than the beginning of a relationship. Customers will not become repeat customers and advocates for your firm unless they are completely satisfied with their purchase. Problems must be dealt with competently and quickly if you are to enjoy a second chance at the customer or earn their recommendation.
* Source - Streetwise Relationship Marketing On The Internet
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