Growing Your Business From the Inside Out

That’s my way of suggesting that print providers focus more on retaining existing customers before looking for the latest and greatest way to acquire new ones.

Here are some stats to consider. I’ve added my thoughts after each one:

80% of companies believe they deliver a superior customer experience but only 8% of their customers agree. (1)

Great customer service requires a customer centric culture. It’s not easy to accomplish but it’s not impossible either.

68% of customers leave because they perceive you are indifferent to them. (2)

Everyone seeks recognition. Do your customers hear from your competitors more often than they hear from you?

50% of people appreciate the convenience of electronic interaction over face-to-face. (3)

How accessible are your email addresses from your website? Do you maintain contact with customers via social media? Are you present in their inbox with timely and relevant communications?

A 5% improvement in customer retention can increase business profits by 25 to 125%. (4)

Imagine how much more business you’d have today if you had retained just 5% more of your customers annually over the last four years!

The easiest way to lose a customer is to lose touch with them. Even a dissatisfied customer can be retained with proper engagement. Sales and retention are similar in that they both rely on strengthening relationships and fostering trust and credibility. The key is to continually engage and communicate.

(1) Bain & Company from Harvard Management Update
(4) Gartner Group and “Leading on the Edge of Chaos”

Out of Sight, Out of Mind, Out Looking Elsewhere

The president of a design firm in our building recently shared with me that they were “open” to exploring an alternative source for their printing needs. He explained that despite purchasing over $100,000 in print annually, they no longer felt the same level of appreciation that they did when their relationship began a year ago. He said that they rarely hear from the printer, are always the ones who have to initiate contact to check on job status, and that they never get thanked (printing it on the bottom of an invoice doesn’t count!). He further noted that the person who takes their calls, while providing accurate information, seemed to lack enthusiasm.

Undoubtedly, many of your competitors offer a quality product and service, with prices and delivery standards that are reasonable or excellent. Given this, how can you continuously attract and win new clients as well as prevent your current clients from being drawn away by competitors? All things being equal, your clients will naturally go where they consistently feel well treated and appreciated.

Sure you care about your clients, but what happens if you’re too busy to show it? The answer is to do a little more planning and be more thoughtful, attentive and creative about the quality of your communication. Set up a series of “nurturing” mailers throughout the year — a continuous client contact program that will demonstrate at regular, pre-planned intervals that you honestly and sincerely care about their well-being.

Start growing the relationship. Offer useful tips, stop by occasionally in person, engage them with social media and website content. Mail (and email) case studies, newsletters and other greetings that remind clients of your commitment to service, value, quality, innovation and loyalty. After all, it’s a lot easier (and less expensive) to keep clients than it is to find new ones. Your growth depends on it!

3 Things Every Printer Should Seriously Consider

Every employee is a harbinger of your brand. I see it all the time, and it has even happened in my own business. Employees (and owners) mishandle situations that end up creating opportunities for their competition. It’s not just the sales and customer service people who have to provide a customer-centric experience. Dave Thomas, founder of Wendy’s, in making his case for consistency, always claimed that the first bite and the last bite were what the customer remembered most. So pay attention to how your phones are being answered and how your products are being delivered. Consider having written policies to address this.

Focus on client retention. Printers should forget about trying the latest and greatest marketing methods for finding new customers until they have become proficient at retaining the customers they have. There is a wealth of information (some of which I produced) to support the premise that client retention efforts produce a far greater ROI than new client acquisition efforts. As a shameful plug for my own services, the use of company newsletters was originally developed as a customer-retention tool back in the 1950s. Engage your customers (not just via the sales call), educate them, and promote thought leadership. It’s not hard to do.

Focus on creating a mobile-friendly experience. It’s more than just having a mobile-optimized website. Think about it. If approximately 50% of emails are being read on a mobile device, then there is a tremendous amount of business being done in a mobile environment. How easy is it to engage your company from a mobile phone? Try typing in a person’s last name while you’re driving or even an extension. It’s just too easy to hang up and call the next company that occupies mind share in the prospect’s or customer’s head. The bottom line is that with so many people transacting business from a mobile environment, you need to make the entire experience easy.