The Value of Connecting to Customers
by Sally Ramsay
December 15, 2009
Many businesses underestimate the value of connecting to existing customers, instead focusing their attention primarily on schmoozing and wooing new prospects. At Pierpont Communications, we understand that it is equally as important to remain connected to our existing clients as it is to seek new ones – and we work hard to build and strengthen these relationships every day.
The 80/20 rule tells us that 80 percent of new business comes not from networking efforts, but from the referrals of satisfied customers. The customer’s trust of his or her peers is evident in all aspects of sales and marketing, from initial research to analysis and purchase decision. Today, 25 percent of Google results are user-generated, and each year the consumer becomes increasingly skeptical of corporate messages. This staggering fact compounds reliance upon trusted third-party recommendations when making important purchase decisions, like vendors, value-added service providers and high-end product purchases.
Recently, Pierpont held its annual Thanksgiving Luncheon and Pie Extravaganza, just one way we show our clients how much they mean to us. This event is all about food and fun – although a little bit of business does sneak its way into the conversation at times. It’s a great way for our clients to get away from the everyday stresses of their jobs and enjoy some good food and great company, while allowing us to connect with them on a more personal level. The trust and camaraderie built at this type of event is strong – much more so than at a formal networking event where participants feel they must be “on” at all times – and it helps develop the valuable referrals and new business leads that are so critical in today’s hyper-competitive market.
But what if you don’t have room for 50 pies and a 15-foot buffet table in your office? Have no fear – there are plenty of things you can do to bolster client relationships without tempting them with sweets and meats! Try these simple suggestions to make the most out of your existing relationships:
· Take a lunch break. More than 40 percent of Americans report they eat their lunches at their desk each day. Invite your clients or customers to get out of the office and enjoy some fresh air – not only will it lift their spirits, but being out of the office setting induces an environment of comfort and trust.
· Ask questions. When you take an interest in your clients’ interests, it’s a great way to share stories and experiences. If you’ve previously purchased a home or welcomed a new baby into the family, you can be sure that one of your clients is probably going through the same thing! But make sure your interests are genuine – it’s easy for people to see right through those feigning interest for ulterior reasons.
· Remember the little things. These days, budgets are tight and the competition is fierce in the business world. Remembering a client’s birthday, anniversary or favorite color shows them you care not just about their business, but also about them as a person. It’s this type of attention to detail that can set you above the rest.
Through day-to-day contact, invitations to special events and unique holiday gifts, Pierpont works hard to ensure that our customers are more than just satisfied – we strive to impress. We understand that our current customers are of great value to our firm and we wouldn’t be here without them – so we work hard to earn their business every single day.