Focus this week on keeping the customers you already have. You can enjoy profit swings of 25 to 100% if your customer defection rate is reduced by 5%. Customers who feel well-served by your business can become priceless allies. They'll remain loyal in the face of cheaper or tempting offers; they'll provide you with valuable feedback; and they'll gladly give you their money -- even during lean times. Garnering this type of customer support, though, will require some effort on your part.

Stay customer-driven, not competition-driven. Many businesses feel pressured to install special features and services based on what their competition is doing or provide service based solely on internal considerations. But did you check with your customers to make sure it's something they'll value? Would your customers really benefit more from an e-zine (electronic) versus your print newsletter? Host a one-question poll, querying everyone during a designated week or month, to find out your customers' preferences.

Give 'em extras. You can incorporate some form of gift-giving to your best or regular customers without putting a dent in your wallet. Honor them with a gift of appreciation at year-end holidays, customer birthdays or anniversaries. Other low-cost extras: become their clipping service of useful information, tell them about deals that you discover, and take advantage of opportunities to send business or opportunities their way, too.

Suppress a full-stomach attitude. Your business may have more than enough business. Watch your attitude. A client called a business owner with a referral. The business owner began spouting off about how busy he was and that he hoped the lead had the money to pay for the services. The client was appalled by this arrogant attitude and began giving referrals to another business. Don't abandon the strategies that made you successful.

Copyright © 2000 Kimberly Stanséll. All Rights Reserved.