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Reece: Falling in love with your customers

We have a saying around the chamber: “We love our customers!” I view each business that chooses to invest in a chamber membership as our customer. Sam Walton was often quoted as saying that "There is only one boss…the customer. And they can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending their money somewhere else."

Yes, even chambers of commerce have competitors.

Why is it then that so many customers never appear more than once? Well, the answer is they don’t care and the reason they don’t care is because we didn’t give them anything to care about. Quite often customers don’t feel appreciated. Sad but true.

So how does one start to turn that around? Marketing guru Jay Abraham says: “The secret to success is to fall out of love with your product, service or store, and fall in love with your customers.” Customer-focused companies just look different, sound different and value different things and, frankly, customers notice.

So, what can be done to show our customers that we love them? Here are some ideas plucked from a variety of sources:

• When it comes to turning one-time customers into returning customers, you have to deliver exceptional service. Not just once or twice, but all the time.

• If you make a promise, be sure to keep it. Your word is your deed and your reputation for honesty is paramount with customers.

• When things go south (and they do), apologize. Don't play the blame game because no one wins. Instead, focus on just making it right, no matter who is at fault and don't delay in doing so.

• Customers love companies with employees who not only say “thank you” but who are enthusiastic about saying it.

• Create customers who love you by embedding a culture of exceptional customer experience into your staff. Empower them to do great, even unexpected, things for the customer.

• While it’s really important to get new customers, never, ever forget about the ones that already brought you to the dance.

Putting customer’s needs, wants and desires first also will dramatically increase the "lifetime value” of a customer. “Lifetime value” means the total amount that person will spend over their life as your customer. When you love your customers and nurture your relationship properly, they will shop (and spend more) with you more often and send their family and friends to your business, too.

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Join us from 5 to 7 p.m. next Tuesday for an after hour’s multi-chamber mixer hosted by On Angel’s Wings, 5186 Northwest Hwy., Suite 133 (behind Exceed Flooring). All Crystal Lake chamber members and their guests are invited to attend.

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Don’t think it’s important to put your business in front of 5,000 potential customers? Well, your competitors do, so they’re exhibiting at the 2013 Crystal Lake Home & Business EXPO on March 23-24. EXPO is one of the best, most cost-effective ways to market your business and with booths now over 85 percent sold out don’t wait any longer to get one of the last few available. Go to clchamber.com to register today!

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Please welcome our newest members! Airwise Heating and Cooling, Gary Brink; Chase Bank, NA, Vito Angelilli; Crystal Lake Family Dental, Cheryl Rytina; Divine Tranquility Ltd., Sara Gussie; Esser Automotive, Kathy Esser; Loving Attentive Home Care Inc., Randy Rodiek; McHenry Country Club, Keith Schultz; Midwest Hardwood Flooring Specialists, LLC, Dawn Svoboda; PHH Home Loans, Matthew Wilhelmi; Prairie  Material, Phil Shea; Solar Guard Systems, Dale  Long; Staffmark, Jackie Cwik; and Wear Did U Get That?, Stephanie Ormsby.

• Gary Reece is president of the Crystal Lake Chamber of Commerce. Email garyreece@clchamber.com.

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