Driving forward - in reverse?

Published:  16 September, 2014

In order to progress, we often have to look back. Jonathan Eyre, bcg sales director, addresses the importance of looking after longstanding customers.

Sometimes we can focus too hard on moving forward by improving ways to communicate with customers and showcasing all the latest deals and new channels. Of course, it goes without saying that this should be a priority for any business – but some businesses are more keen on ‘the next big thing’ than looking at what is already on offer.

Think about why your customers buy from you. Do they tend to just buy once, or do you have a solid foundation of repeat customers? If you don’t know this information already, then it certainly pays to find out – you never know, you might be able to repeat a successful sales tactic and win more clients in the future.

When it comes to your loyal customers, are they happy? How do you know? Why are they loyal to you? Again, this information could do wonders for your customer service, because all too often customers say that they are happy at the point of sign up, but as their custom ages, so does their interest. Quite often, this will prompt a customer to go elsewhere, so make sure you aren’t handing over your customers to the competition.

When was the last time you spoke to your oldest client? Could you contact them more frequently? It doesn’t need to be a pressurised sales call; just an impromptu catch-up. You may find they will open up to you unaided.

For example, could you be offering them any introductory rates that you are offering new customers at the moment? By making your older customers feel like new ones again, they are much more likely to prolong their buying period.

By opening up the lines of communication, you may also find they tell you things like “yes, service is generally very good, but there was a late delivery once”, and “I was going to mention it, but I didn’t want to make a fuss”. These are things which need to be addressed and ironed out if your customer is to feel valued and remain with you. It’s only a vocal minority that complain. Most people don’t like conflict and rather than complain, they will vote with their feet by moving to someone else.

Here at bcg, we have recently introduced a new clearance page to our website. This came about as a direct result of listening to our customers and understanding how we could help them further. We can offer products on our clearance site at a discount price to all customers, old and new, without any special loyalty or new membership being required.

Clearance items are also a great way for businesses to make value purchases. If they choose, they can then pass these savings on to their own customers – a domino effect of savings!

Customer service is at the heart of everything we do at bcg. We are continuously looking for new products, new channels and new ways to serve our customers better.

In the end, though, it’s not high-tech, shiny new solutions that make the biggest difference, but plain old good communication.

This article first appeared in the June 2014 issue of Builders' Merchants News.

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