The Green Sheet Online Edition
June 28, 2010 • Issue 10:06:02
Dig for gold, revisit your portfolio
||Knowledge is a treasure, but practice is the key to it.|
- Thomas Fuller
When you hear the term gold mine, you might think of discovering something new, like buried treasure. But as far as your business is concerned, there's a gold mine that you've tapped into before and should revisit often to reap even greater benefits.
This treasure trove is your current customer base. The merchants in your portfolio are a prime source of "gold" for your business. But you may be neglecting them as you focus on boarding new merchants, acquiring new portfolios and expanding your product offerings.
Merchants might get tired of endless sales pitches, but they never tire of receiving friendly follow-up calls to be sure your products and services work to their satisfaction. They will never tire of receiving the occasional thank you note. It's the little things that will make a huge difference in your customers' eyes.
Cost effective treasure
The truth is that it costs much less in time and effort to keep customers than to gain new ones. Keeping merchants sticky involves great customer service and helping them sustain and grow profitability. Upselling them on faster terminals or a loyalty program that employs text messaging are ways to maintain that positive relationship with your merchants.
These selling opportunities take less work because your existing customers already know and trust you. It takes less paperwork and time entering their data because you already have their information in your database. To find new customers, you have to spend money on advertising, mailings, sales presentations, phone calls and so forth to make that first sale.
Wealth through relationships
One thing is certain: unhappy merchants who never get their payment processing problems resolved will report their displeasure to just about everyone they know. But those who once had problems that you fixed will likely be your loyal customers for life. In addition, they will tell fellow merchants to use you for their processing needs. As a new business generator, word-of-mouth testimonials can't be beat.
Your true value to your customers is often defined by how well you take on the role of problem solver. Once you solve a problem, make sure to cement your success by following up with a phone call to ensure your
customer is satisfied.
Like doctors, plumbers, electricians, repairmen, advertising agents and web designers, ISOs and merchant level salespeople are in a service-oriented industry. It is important to be "up close and personal" with your clients and to always follow up with them.
The Midas 'touch'
It's simple to keep in touch with your customers, and the benefits are tremendous. Start a newsletter by mail, or a permission-based e-mail campaign, in which you offer tips as well as resources and special offers. You can send out the newsletter once a month, or even once a week for e-mail newsletters.
Another way to stay in touch is through direct mail. Send special offers with coupons in a letter or on a postcard. These should be sent at least quarterly to keep your business name in the forefront of your customers' minds. Also, sending personalized greeting cards on holidays, or even on customers' birthdays and anniversaries, provides a way to keep relationships fresh and positive.
Bright and shiny referrals
You can maximize profits by asking for referrals. Write a letter to customers announcing your new referral program. Provide a gift coupon for each referral received. Each customer who refers someone to your company can receive a letter with a referral gift certificate. This could be a percentage rebate on a month's processing fees or a discount on their next purchase of POS printer paper rolls.
The key is to offer an incentive for referrals. On your website add a "Tell a friend" e-mail form, or provide a way for subscribers to recommend your newsletter to others. The newsletter gives you an open door to stir up new business.
The foundation of all successful ISOs is in their portfolios. Every happy, contented merchant adds to your treasure in many ways, through residuals, referrals and word-of-mouth. So treat your merchants as you would treat rare coins and jewels you dream of finding in that legendary chest of buried treasure. But the gold in your portfolio isn't a dream; it's reality. And you don't need a treasure map to find it.
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