If customers are the lifeblood of your business, how do you insure that they stay loyal to you?

A study conducted by marketing guru Dan Kennedy found that the number one reason a customer stops doing business with a company is because the customer feels ignored, unappreciated, or taken for granted. This probably isn’t much of a surprise, since you’ve probably stopped doing business where you didn’t feel appreciated. On the other hand, think about an organization that you enjoy doing business with. What is that company doing to keep your loyalty? What are some of the ways you can translate those same feelings to your customers?

Start with a S.M.I.L.E.

Let’s consider this five step process for customer engagement, loyalty, and retention using the S.M.I.L.E. process.

1. S = START right now. Oftentimes we hear a good idea and then wait until a more convenient time to start. There is no time like the present, and the more you delay, the less likely you are to take action. Today, commit to one activity you can do to create stronger relationships with your customers. As Napoleon Hill, author of “Think and Grow Rich” said, “Do not wait: the time will never be ‘just right’. Start where you stand, and work whatever tools you may have at your command and better tools will be found as you go along.”

2. M = MAKE a list of your top clients. These may be the customers you like the most or the ones that are most profitable. Don’t feel obligated to include customers that you do not find fun to work with. Face it, some clients are just more trouble than they are worth. When you’re done with your list, add to it your top five idea dream prospects. Keep this list in a place where you can see it often, preferably every day.

3. I = Identify creative ways to stay in touch. Use a variety of communication methods – letters, notes, emails, phone calls, and/or faxes. Mix it up. Make it a goal to make your customers laugh (or at least smile) and you will be rewarded. When I was in medical sales I used to bring in surgical gloves filled with candy. When promoting the release of my movie, I sent microwave popcorn in red and white popcorn bag envelopes to announce the red carpet premiere. Remember – the more unique and different your contact, the bigger the payoff.

4. L = Look for additional ways you can be of service. If you see an article in a newspaper or trade magazine that impacts their business, clip it out and send it to them. Email them the links of interesting articles you find online. When you find that your customer was quoted in a local publication. cut it out, laminate it, and send it to them with a congratulatory note. Look for strategic partners that you can introduce them to help them grow their businesses well.

5. E = Express gratitude. Let your customers know that you enjoy working with them and that you appreciate their business. Don’t assume your customers know. Tell them, or better yet, send them a note. E-mails are fine from time to time, but you want to make sure that that hand written notes or cards sent through the mail are included as well. A token gift is always appreciated. When you let your customers know that they matter, you will matter to them.

In business as in life, a SMILE goes a long way.

Lisa Ryan is the Founder of Grategy. She is an employee engagement and business keynote speaker, gratitude expert, and author of 6 books including “The Upside of Down Times: Discovering the Power of Gratitude.” She co-stars in two documentaries: “The Keeper of the Keys” with Jack Canfield and “The Gratitude Experiment.”

Learn more about Lisa Ryan at http://www.grategy.com and https://lisaryanspeaks.com/

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