How friendly should you be with the customer?
When you are a small business what would you do for customer retention? How will you make faithful customers, and repeated sales? Of course, quality, or maybe the better price would make customers come back and ask for more, but what about friendship? When would you stop calling your customer Sir?
The thing that comes to my mind right now is the classic barbecue that you are supposed to have with your customer in order to get the contract signed (saw this in some US movies). Why is important to have a personal bond with your customer?
Getting friendly with the customer should have some advantages:
- It’s getting you more sales. If the customer will consider you as his friend, chances are that the next time he will need something he will look no further than you. Friendship is a special breed of customer loyalty.
- The customer friend can spread the word about you and get you more customers. Word of the mouth is probably one of most powerful marketing tools a small business can use. It comes for free
- Problems with quality, delivery or anything else? Well, the friend customer can close an eye on it, and you can get things settled over beer.
Getting friendly with the customer should have some disadvantages:
- Margins can be low. Well, if the customer is your friend, you won’t charge him too much right? This also happens with older customers as well – as your business grows the older customers don’t bring the best business because the newer ones are able to pay more.
- Sometimes you are forced to provide more than the regular service. Because they are your friends, the customers will feel entitled to ask a little bit more.
- It’s never good to make business with your friends. Words of wisdom say that if you make business with your friends either your friendship or your business will eventually suffer.
But in the end is it a good idea to get friendlier with your customers? I think it depends. If you’re running a small bank it doesn’t work. But if you have a small grocery store, or a hair styling business it seems like the right thing to do. It anyway depends on yourself and the way you make friends and not really a business decision. You can however make a business decision from the way you talk, deal and behave with the customer – that should be a good enough framework.