As an entrepreneur trying to grow your business, your clients and customers are the most valuable part of your company. They are your top priority, your greatest possession and integral pieces to your success. It sounds like a cliché, but the customer really is always right; and just like happy customers are returning customers, happy clients are returning clients.
This is something we built into our business model from day one. Whether you’re operating in a business-to-business or business-to-consumer industry, like Rukkus is, it’s important to ensure that your customers always want to keep coming back to you. After all, most customers are aware of your competitors, and if you don’t provide a quality service, there’s no reason not to jump ship. Here are a few tips we’ve picked up to keep our customers as satisfied as possible.
Keep Customer Service Internal
When we first launched our startup ticket marketplace, we were a team of three developers with little to no customer service experience. As we grew larger, we faced the same challenge of any B2C company: handle our customer service internally or outsource. Most of our competitors outsource, which made keeping our customer service internally a no–brainer. There’s nothing more frustrating than calling a business and not having your issue promptly solved because the person on the other end isn’t on site.
Keeping customer service internal was the first step in our customer relationship management strategy. A well-developed customer relationship management (CRM) strategy is integral to any business, as it will quickly build brand loyalty and develop your reputation in the industry. And while our customers are our lifeblood, we rely just as strongly on ticket suppliers, from whom we draw our inventory of event tickets. Without our clients we would have nothing to sell. Just about every business has a similarly essential component of their supply chain that they can’t overlook. Once you grow too big to do it all yourself, choosing the right internal team to handle client relationships is the key to a successful future.
Surprise Your Clients
Our client relationships are something we are extremely proud of, and they weren’t developed overnight. Building our now vast client base was done with care, persistence, and a little buttering. When we first started Rukkus, nobody knew who we were. Ticket suppliers didn’t pick up our calls, and you could forget about a cold email getting a response. These things start to happen once you are known and reputable, and we couldn’t just sit around and wait for that to happen.
Last year, we launched our pizza project. The concept was simple; everyone loves pizza so we would send a sizable supply to the offices of clients we wanted to work with. After a delicious, unexpected pizza lunch, clients can no longer stay ghosts, and our phones started ringing. Today, many of our biggest clients were won over pizza. If you’re struggling with holding on to a difficult account, or simply having a hard time onboarding some potential new business, consider sending them a small token of your appreciation. You’d be surprised how small gestures can cement you in their minds.
Learn More About Your Clients
Once you land the client, keeping them happy is the next step, and getting personal is key. Keep plenty of information on all clients, and go beyond the standard address book or spreadsheet. Find out when your clients’ birthdays are and send them a card. Call them on a Friday and ask about their weekend plans. From their itineraries, you can learn what they like to do outside of the workplace. Are they going to a concert? Now you know what kind of music they like. When you talk to them the following week, you can use this information to make your relationship even stronger, and they will notice.
Think Outside the Gift Basket
Sending pizzas was just one of the ways Rukkus set itself apart. This past holiday season, we decided to do away with sending out the traditional gift baskets. When everyone sends their clients gift baskets, their contents are almost always forgettable. Instead, we came up with a charity program. We reached out to our clients and offered them the opportunity to pick a charity of their choice, and Rukkus would make a donation on their behalf. This program was extremely well received by all our clients and really set us apart from the other companies they work with.
Nobody really likes gift baskets that much anyway. So instead of sending over the most generic gift possible, think outside the box. This is where number three really comes in handy. Know a potential client is a foodie? Consider buying them some artisanal chocolate. A sports fan? Maybe pick up some tickets (and maybe buy them on Rukkus!) Just be creative in your choice.
Due to the absolute personalization and care we take when handling our clients and customers, the number of relationships we’ve created has risen astronomically in a very short period of time. Today, many of our new clients emerge due to established ones telling their industry friends about Rukkus. Your reputation in business is everything, and our customers and clients have built ours for us.