Many inexperienced business owners assume that their customers are a one-time interaction and relationship kind of deal. You offer them something to buy, they buy it, and walk out of your life forever. Now you have to work on getting another customer.
Except that’s absolutely not the end of it at all, at least if you play your cards right. Your customers have a huge influence on you, your business, and even other customers. They continue to be a huge part of your company even when they’re long gone from your proverbial doorstep.
How They Influence Other Customers
This is one of the easiest aspects to track. In this day and age it’s ridiculous to think someone who shops at your store (whether it’s physical or digital) won’t at some point talk to someone else about the experience. There are just too many opportunities to do so.
They could immediately go home and rave about how great your store and its products are or they could fume about a bad experience for a week and post on Facebook about it. They could also be browsing their favorite web forum and recommend your store a year after they left it. It’s impossible to say how your customers will eventually impact your business, so you have to be prepared for every scenario.
This is why you have to make every sale the best they’ve ever had. If they come in every day and have a fabulous experience, their recommendation will be easy. But that same customer could have ONE bad experience and they’ll say to their friend, “They’re usually good, but the other day…” You’ve just hurt your chances with that one bad outing. And, don’t even get me started on the new customer who finds you on your off day…
How They Influence Your Business
The more customers you earn, the better you understand how your business really works. Before you start up you have grand ideas how things will go – you’ll operate this way, sell this type of product, and deal with problems like this. It’s always good to dream and imagine.
However, it’s equally as important to realize those dreams hardly ever end up like you think. Your customers have their own ideas about your business and refuse to conform to what you want. For instance, they’ll insist on buying hundreds of a product you didn’t think would sell while your “big seller” you had high hopes for just sits on the shelf gathering dust.
Be prepared to go with the flow. If you don’t, someone else will. And this is how customers will change YOU – the faster you learn to really listen to people and what they want the better off you’ll be. It’s one of the most basic premises of public relations, but so many people forget it because they have their own ideas about the future.
Treat this influence as an advantage rather than an annoyance. Once customers start influencing your business this means you actually have people regularly shopping at your business (or buying your service or whatnot). I fail to see how this could be a bad thing. Just be sure if you do alter your business to accommodate your customers’ influence it’s sustainable for a long term model.
What aspect of your business has your customer base influenced the most? Or you doing something now that you never would have dreamed of when you first started your business?
This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. Grab your free 160-page copy of the Big Press Release Book – Press Releases for Every Occasion and Industry here: http://www.ereleases.com/insider/bigbook.html