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Table of Contents

Lead Story

Congress, Fed pressured to reconsider interchange caps

Patti Murphy
The Takoma Group

News

Industry Update

London steers toward open payments by 2012 Olympics

Merchant coalition backs interchange overhaul

Girl Scout cookie sales go mobile

Trade Association News

Features

Ingredients essential to thriving enterprises

Research Rundown

ISOMetrics:
The rise of the debit card

Measuring your ad's ROO

Selling Prepaid

Prepaid in brief

Has the prepaid tax refund moment arrived?

Compliance partnership made for two

Views

Thoughts on the economy (in hindsight)

Brandes Elitch
CrossCheck Inc.

Cell phones as marketing tools

Steve Schwimmer
Renaissance Merchant Services

Education

Street SmartsSM:
Earning and keeping merchants' trust

Ken Musante
Eureka Payments LLC

It pays to keep your customers happy

Jeffrey Shavitz
Charge Card Systems Inc.

Security in a mobile world

Tim Cranny
Panoptic Security Inc.

Stockholm Syndrome and the payment pro

Jeff Fortney
Clearent LLC

Helping Level 4 merchants comply with PCI DSS 2.0

Joan Herbig
ControlScan

Leads, leads, leads - Part 2: Lead management

Peggy Bekavac Olson
Strategic Marketing

Company Profile

FrontStream Payments Inc.

New Products

A global e-commerce payment solution

Digital River World Payments
Digital River Inc.

Inspiration

The mind's the limit - so expand it

Departments

Forum

Resource Guide

Datebook

A Bigger Thing

The Green Sheet Online Edition

March 14, 2011  •  Issue 11:03:01

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It pays to keep your customers happy

By Jeffrey Shavitz

We all know it is more efficient and cost-effective to keep an old customer than it is to acquire a new one. But maintaining your current merchant portfolio requires effort; you need to cultivate relationships on a personal and professional basis, offer great service and find new ways to bring value to your partnerships.

Courting new customers

As our world becomes more complex, time is more of a luxury, and it's more challenging trying to arrange meetings with people we don't know to talk about our products or services. Even when you do get someone on the phone, he or she is ready to hang up before even understanding what we are offering.

And crafting compelling email messages doesn't guarantee your electronic overtures will be well-accepted either. There are legal requirements to meet in qualifying email blasts as permission-based marketing, so tread carefully.

With so many ads, pitches and offers competing for our prospects' attention, it's a difficult environment in which to communicate our unique value proposition to those who don't already have a vested interest in hearing more about it.

Keeping current customers

In our industry, there are four types of customers: prospects, current customers, loyal customers and former customers. Given the difficulty of converting prospects to customers (or re-attracting a former customer), a good portion of our client-relationship efforts should go toward maintaining a base of loyal customers, or as Ken Blanchard calls them, raving fans.

Cultivating relationships with your merchants requires not only knowing what is going on in their businesses, but also what is going on in their lives - from what activities their children are involved in to their favorite vacation spots. This type of insider knowledge requires consistent engagement with, and genuine interest in, each merchant as an individual. So take one day per week, or even just a few hours per week, and stay in touch with your existing customers.

Checking in regularly with your merchants provides the opportunity for you to learn more about their business needs, offer additional products and services and even to hear complaints. If a merchant has a criticism of your service, it's better to address it head-on than to learn from your next residual statement that you lost the account. It's a horrible feeling when you review your current statement and see $0 next to that merchant's name when you could have nipped the problem in the bud.

Multiplying your happy customers

Imagine if you had just 100 satisfied merchants, and each one gave you a few referrals and then each one of the new merchants gave you several referrals. I think you would agree that you would have a highly successful and profitable business, primarily achieved by pleasing your core customers.

How many referrals do you get per week or month? Think about it: why are some merchant level salespeople writing only a few deals per month and others are writing 15 to 20 deals per month - with less effort? It's not luck; they are working smart by leveraging referrals from their current portfolios.

Adam Moss, the National Sales Manager for Charge Card Systems Inc., and I spend endless hours each month thinking about this concept and how to help our sales partners continuously grow their respective portfolios.

A quote I once read (from a book whose title and author I can't remember) said, "It's hard to follow the leader. Why? Because the leader did something remarkable. And that remarkable thing is now taken - it's no longer remarkable when you do it."

Keep reinventing yourself and figuring out new and remarkable ways to keep your customers happy and fulfilled so that you can reduce attrition and continue to build your merchant portfolio.

Jeffrey Shavitz is one of the founders of Charge Card Systems Inc. He is also an active member of The Green Sheet Advisory Board and the First Data ISO Advisory Board. He can be reached at jshavitz@chargecardsystems.com or 800-878-4100. For additional information on CCS, please visit www.chargecardsystems.com/gsadvisoryboard or the company's corporate website at www.chargecardsystems.com.

Notice to readers: These are archived articles. Contact names or information may be out of date. We regret any inconvenience.

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