Keeping a Customer: Price, Service or Relationship?

We live in the information era. You name it, and anyone can likely put their hands on

information about any product or service one can think of. This can be a blessing for

the consumer and the sales person. Many times your client or customer will know all

about a product before they come to purchase it. This can save you time educating

them on what you have to sell. So what do you offer them now?

Best Price: Some people are shopping for the best price- there is no doubt. But best

price is what many of them can get from a big box store or large company. The

downfall is that often they do not get good service – especially if they need to

return an item. Often they must return items to the manufacturer or call a specialty

service to repair the item. So best price is great if you are certain that you can get

the quality you need every time. Recently we had a TV delivered from a large store,

only to unpack it and find out it did not work. The store refused to pick the item up

and bring us one that worked, so we had to repackage the TV and drive it to a

location to exchange it. A week later and 3 hours out of our day we had a new TV.

So much for price!

Best Service: Follow up and service is imperative for any business. It can make or

break a transaction. Offering free delivery or set up is a couple of services that are

much appreciated in our busy world. Accommodating the customer in every way

possible will give them the reassurance that you care about them. Listening to

complaints is part of best service. Redirecting customers to another location

(sometimes it may have to be a competitor) is also part of best service. Recently I

watched as a consumer returned an item to a store. The manager assisting the

customer realized that products he carried were not what the customer was looking

for, and so he sent them to another store to get the product that would suit his

needs. I know if a manager would look out for my needs over a sale, that is the

place I would return to for the next item I purchased that he carried- knowing he

was looking out for my best interest.

Relationship. This is what keeps a customer returning. Having moved I had several

pieces of furniture I had to purchase. I made many of my purchases six weeks

before the move date, knowing delivery often takes several weeks. After moving in,

I returned to one store to pick up several items I had ordered. Upon arrival, the

salesman did not recognize me. Then he could not find the order or the invoice. (I

had paid in full for the item) After that he could not find it in the warehouse, and

told me he would call me later after he tracked the order. He called later to tell me

the items would arrive in two weeks. He still did not appear to recognize who I was-

even though we had had a long conversation about several other items I was

considering. I finally cancelled my order.

The second store I went to, I went to look and see if they had any new items to

complete a set I had purchased. The salesman saw me enter, greeted me by name,

and when I found what I was looking for, gave me a preferred customer discount

and free delivery – without my asking for it. And I had only met this man once

before. I now know where I will shop for many more of the items that I need.

There are lessons in all of this. Price is important- people need value for what they

pay for, so making sure they get this basic for most successful businesses. Service

is very important and second only to relationship. However even if he service is not

the best, a customer will always return to purchase from someone that they KNOW

will take care of their needs and who cares about them.

As a final note, I worked for a short time for one of the oldest and most prestigious

jewelry stores in the world. During training we were instructed to send a thank you

note after every customer purchased, and to follow-up to ensure that all was well

with the purchase- that it met their expectations. This company prides itself in

CARING about the customer. For over 100 years they have based their success on

this principle. They have customers who return year after year and then bring adult

children in to introduce them to the store for their future purchases.

In the end, if you want to build your business- you need to have people return to

you for what you have to offer. And to build that loyalty - you need to build

relationships with your clients. Not only will they return but they will also pass along

your name to others.

We can help you research and develop a tips list that can be sent out regularly to your clients. Learn More here


Mandie Crawford is a marketing expert, business coach, trainer and motivational speaker who was recently awarded Calgary Business Woman of the Year for her contributions to the business community.

Mandie also has skills and expertise in providing high quality guidance in time management and system implementation for small a medium sized businesses. Her passion as a business and professional development coach is to helps women recognize their value and self worth.

She is the Preside...

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