WHEN IT COMES to getting and keeping
customers, it takes courtship, commitment
and communication to keep the spark alive.
And just as with any relationship, involvement
with customers comes in stages.
; You won’t find customers unless you
actively seek them. So get out there. Make
sure people find your business when they
look for the products and services you sell.
Fill in information on free search engines like
Google My Business and Bing, and review
RHONDA ABRAMS: STRATEGIES
newest book is
A Real-World Approach. Register for
her free business-tips newsletter at
More in archives
On Costco.com, enter
“Connection.”At Online Edition,
search “Rhonda Abrams.”
sites like Yelp. And be social. Choose one or
two social media sites that are best for your
business and get active.
; Make a great first impression. Is your
website mobile responsive? More than half
of the population access websites on mobile
devices, so make sure your website looks
good on smartphones and tablets. Engage
with customers quickly, whether at your
place of business, online or in social media.
And set a positive tone in all your dealings:
Treat customers as people, not dollar
signs. Treat employees with respect and
fairness, and they will be more likely to treat
; To turn prospects into customers, to
get them to say “I do,“ be honest. Price fairly;
when you offer excellent quality at a competi-
tive price, customers will fall in love. You don’t
have to be the cheapest option, but you have
to be a realistic choice. Provide something
customers will be glad they bought. If possible,
find products or services that are unusual or
unique. Then, under-promise and over-deliver.
; You have to nurture your relationship.
Talk honestly when there’s a problem. Go the
extra mile and give a little extra. Pleasantly
surprised customers are loyal customers.
It’s just like bringing home flowers when they
aren’t expected: It keeps the love alive.
Take a few moments to see how you
can keep the spark alive in your customer
relationships so that, all year long, your customers will love doing business with you. C
“IF EMPLOYEES LET their personalities dictate their response to clients and customers, then pretty
soon each team member can be
on a different page,” says
Costco member Garrison
Wynn, author, CEO and owner
of Wynn Solutions, a global
training company. “Too much
employee self-expression can
derail a small business.” The
answer is not a script—“Too
says—but a systematic, organized approach
with enough room for customization.
Wynn advises owners to listen to their
employees’ interactions with clients. The
following signs suggest it may be time to
consider using communications guidelines.
Inappropriate vocal tones. Employees’
emotions, running the gamut from “
burdened” to “sour,” can often intrude and are
reflected in their voices, according to Wynn.
Inconsistency. If clients who worked
with a calm, more formal team member
now work with a new staffer who is more
casual and less detailed, it could make them
feel they’ve been shortchanged on service
“Guidelines should provide a frame-
work of uniformity and
control, without leading
your employees to give
a robotic response,” adds
Costco member Sam
director of the Triadic
Group, a global contact-
center consulting firm.
“Unless you address
standards—how to greet
customers, how to take
an order—you run the risk
of destroying the value proposi-
tion of your brand.”
Bloomfield offers these tips to help
employers generate company guidelines.
; Make a list of employee sales and
customer-service behaviors and phrases
that may be viewed as offensive and can
potentially erode your brand. Opt for
dialogue that promotes engagement and
relationships, and builds trust.
; Get input from your employees.
It’s best to deal with worker objections
now, rather than allow reactivity to contaminate interaction with customers later.
; After your team tests the initial
guidelines for a set period of time, have a
meeting to improve them. Ask your staff
whether they all feel at ease delivering
certain key phrases and customizing other
text. Being comfortable with how you say
something is just as important as what
you say.— Coeli Carr
IN DECEMBER, the Bureau of Labor
Statistics reported that 321,000 jobs were
added to the economy in November,
which marked 10 straight months that at
least 200,000 jobs had been added—a first
since the tech boom of the mid-’90s. But
an even bigger claim is that about 7 million
of the 10. 9 million jobs added were created
by start-ups and small enterprises.
According to Maria Contreras-Sweet,
administrator of the Small Business
Administration (SBA), “For 15 straight
quarters, small firms have contributed to
employment growth—accounting for as
much as 80 percent of job gains in any
given quarter. In the years leading up to
the recession, small-business deaths had
outpaced births for the longest period on
record. That trend has now been arrested;
births have now outpaced deaths for 10
Contreras-Sweet also points out that
SBA loans are up. “With consumer confi-
dence on the rise and businesses investing
again,” she observes, “there’s never been a
better time for small-business owners to
contact their local SBA office to grow or
scale their business.”
sba.gov to learn how the Small
Business Administration can help you. C
Small business is
© RUDIE STRUMMER / SHUTTERSTOCK.COM