How to Keep Loyal Customers Even If You Raise Your Prices
The lifetime value of just one customer could mean several thousands of dollars in your pocket. So why would you ever let a customer you worked so hard to acquire and keep, go to the competition?
In this post I share my communication process to keep your customers staying and paying. But first, let’s look at what this process could mean in the way of developing incredibly loyal customers.
Raising Your Rate or Competition Could Mean the End of Your Service
The truth is your clients are busy running their business. And after you have been servicing the plants for a few months your client forgets about the plant service until it comes time to pay the bill. If your customer is looking to cut costs because you’ve raised your service rate or because your competition is promising to provide the plant service for less, this could mean the loss of another valuable customer. Unless you’ve created fierce loyalty from your client.
The Value of A Fiercely Loyal Customer
This is a true story about one of my accounts.
Imagine you have a local branch office of a large financial firm as one of your accounts. Everything is going great until the branch manager tells you that your competition has come around trying to take over your account by providing the service for less. To make matters worse your competitor does work for other branches of the same company and corporate wants to use the competing plant company for all their local branches. You panic upon hearing the news. But the branch manager continues… “ I told corporate we wouldn’t even think of changing service providers. This is the best plant company we have ever worked with and even if they cost more, they’re worth it!”
That same competitor came back a few times over a two-year period trying to take over my account until they finally gave up. Today, more than ten years later that account is still with us.
Why did this client fight to keep us? Why are they so loyal? Is it because we provide such great service? Good service is essential of course but the reality is everybody promises good service and most companies deliver on that promise.
How to Improve Your Perceived Value
The potential loss of a customer is rarely due to poor service. The bigger problem is the perceived value that you deliver in relation to what you charge. So how do you elevate your value in your customer’s mind?
Strategically Communicate Your Value
If you don’t tell your customers on a regular basis about the great service they get for their money, they might think you are charging too much.
But, if they realized the full value of what you deliver, they’ll see your service rate as fair or even a bargain. Here’s how you do it.
Write Down All the Things You Do for Your Customers.
Start with the obvious then think of the little things you do that might go unnoticed.
Then ask your customers for feedback on the value they receive from your services.
After you think it through and ask your customers, you’ll have a pretty good list. In fact, you might be surprised to see all the value you deliver. And that’s the point!
Now that you have a list of the great value you offer, regularly remind your customers.
Now Let Your Customers Know
Strategic communication on a regular basis is key to reminding your client of the full value you deliver. To make sure your customer is happy to dole out the cash when it comes time to pay the bill, follow my 3-point approach to communicate your value.
Think about the regular touchpoints you have with your customers. There are regular visits by technicians, monthly invoicing (someone must receive those invoices), then there are supervisory visits to accounts. There are more touchpoints if you offer other select services
1. Start With Invoices.
This is my favorite way to communicate value to clients. It’s so easily overlooked but incredibly impactful.
Instead of just sending out an invoice for service and saying thank you, get creative. Every month you are replacing guaranteed plants to customers. You might assume they know this and appreciate it, and maybe they do. However, it doesn’t hurt to remind them when it comes time to pay the bill.
So, with every invoice you send out for the monthly plant care service also list the plants you replaced at no charge. Don’t just list the plants, but also include their full retail price as well. Now the customer sees in real dollars how much they get for just the price of your service.
Next, list on the monthly invoice any extra visits to the account you didn’t charge for. This could be an extra service visit, supervisor quality check visit, or customer issue/complaint visits.
Your customer will quickly forget you did all those wonderful things for them. But when it comes time to pay the bill and they are reminded of the value they receive by hiring you, it makes it a lot easier to pay the bill. And when you make it easy for your customer to pay the bill, they will pay it sooner and more often.
2. Communicate By Phone or Email
If you need to make an in-person visit for something other than regularly scheduled plant care visits do this:
First, send a message to let them know you are stopping by. On many accounts, you could just show up, tell the person at the front desk you are with the plant service, see the job or fix an issue and leave. The problem with this approach is your contact person for the account might not know you came by, thereby missing a huge opportunity to cement your relationship and show value once again.
By letting your customer know you are coming to the job site ahead of time is just one more touchpoint that shows how much you care. It’s also a tremendous opportunity to address any issues that your client is not happy with and might not have told you about until you asked. It’s simply a proactive approach that could head off a potential complaint or worse, a cancelation of your service.
3. In Person Visits
Consider ways you can communicate your value when seeing customers in person.
The adage, “People do business with people they know, like, and trust” is true. When you make in-person visits, it’s a great opportunity to anchor your relationship, and service in their mind and heart.
With your regularly scheduled service visits train your techs to do the following:
- Always smile and acknowledge the people they see on the account (especially your contact person when possible).
- When finished maintaining the plants on a job, let the customer know you are all done, and let them know about any plants you will be replacing or issues you’ll address. Then finish by asking, “Is there anything else you need?” Ninety-nine percent of the time the answer will be no. But, by simply making the offer it goes a long way in terms of customer satisfaction and loyalty.
Quality Control and Extra Service Visits
For extra service visits, follow pretty much the same routine as the maintenance visits. After you acknowledge the client:
- Let them know why you are there
- What you did
- What they can expect next
Imagine you are a paying customer of any type of service, and you were treated with the same care and concern as described here. Wouldn’t you want to hang onto that service provider for as long as possible?
These methods have helped me maintain long-lasting relationships and loyal customers. My hope is you implement some of these tips, and that it inspires you to think of more creative ways to help build customer loyalty.
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