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The Green Sheet Online Edition

April 27, 2015 • Issue 15:04:02

Four tips for maintaining strong customer relationships

By Michael Gavin

When it comes to growing your business, it is easy to get caught up focusing on your new customers and forget about the core of your business: your existing customers. According to a recent KISSMetrics blog post titled "Fastest Way to Lose Customers," the majority of businesses focus on customer acquisition rather than retention.

However, customer relationships matter more now than ever. Customers have more choices, more access to information and more control than ever before. That's why it's critical to build and maintain strong relationships with your customers to keep them satisfied so they continue to do business with you. It takes time and effort to maintain relationships, but if you do it right, you will have long-term, satisfied customers and a strong reputation in the industry.

Business building advice

To help you start building and maintaining relationships with your customers, here are several tips.

  1. Make communication ongoing: Keeping in touch with your customers is the key to maintaining relationships. Make it a priority to check in with your customers every few months to ask how everything is going, get feedback on products and services, and ask if there is anything you can do for them. Set up reminders for yourself to check in with them regularly. If you are in a particular merchant's area, stop by the business to say hello.

    It's also effective to add a personal touch to business relationships to get to know your customers on a more personal level. If you know their birthdays, send them birthday cards. If you are aware of upcoming celebrations in their lives, send them greeting cards congratulating them and wishing them well. The holidays are also a great time to send your customers cards or gifts. These personal touches will be much appreciated by your customers, and they will show that you truly care about them and their businesses.

  2. Leverage social media: In today's connected world, you can form a bond with your customers by using social media to learn about their interests, share experiences and have conversations. If their businesses have social media pages, make sure to follow or like the pages to show your support for them. Whenever you have the opportunity, engage with your customers on social media.
  3. Be their payments resource: You do not want your customers to only view you as a salesperson, so don't make every conversation a sales pitch. Your customers want to put their trust in you to be their go-to resource for payments, and they expect you to inform them of the latest news and payment developments to keep their businesses up to speed.

    When you have a valuable resource or news article, share it with them to keep them up to date on the latest news. If you come across an interesting article that pertains to a specific business, pass it along to the business owner. These small actions will show your customers you care about their business growth, and you will be viewed as a payments expert.

  4. Add value: It is beneficial to offer your customers more than just payment processing and equipment. Think about the value-added services you have access to, such as gift and loyalty, and cash advance options that can help their businesses. Even if a merchant does not need a certain product or service, it doesn't hurt to ask if there is interest in other services.

    Also, when new payment technologies enter the market, make sure you are revisiting your existing customers to inform them of the ways they can take advantage of the new tools. For example, EMV (Europay, MasterCard and Visa) and near field communication (NFC) are two technologies you should be informing your customers of today. Coming in October 2015, the liability shift will go into effect, meaning your customers will be liable if a fraudulent transaction occurs at their locations that do not have EMV-capable equipment. According to a Newtek Business Services Corp. press release, "Majority of Business Owners Not EMV Ready," issued March 5, 2015, a recent survey revealed 71 percent of business owners are not aware of the upcoming liability shift. This provides a great opportunity for you to inform your existing customers that it is critical to upgrade their equipment by October.

    NFC is also a popular topic to touch upon with your customers because you can encourage them to adopt mobile payment technology. The new EMV terminals include NFC capabilities, so your customers can get both technologies with one simple upgrade.

When you spend time focusing on your existing customers, you will see that a little effort can go a long way. Your satisfied customers will continue to do business with you longer and, most likely, through the generations to come. More referrals will come your way, and you will be able to grow your business even more. The next time you close a deal, consider it just the beginning of your relationship with your customer.

SIDE NOTE: Did you know?

If you enjoyed reading this article and want to check out more of Michael Gavin's contributions to The Green Sheet, click on the Search function just below the GS logo at www.greensheet.com. Then, on the page that appears, instead of filling in terms or names in the search fields, click on the List Bylines link. That will take you to a listing of all of our contributing writers in recent years with links to their articles. end of article

As Senior Vice President, Sales, at Cayan, Michael Gavin is responsible for day-to-day management of the company's direct sales efforts, including organizational structure, sales forecasts and overall strategies. He also oversees all sales activities within the company's agent channel, a growing network of more than 400 independent representatives throughout the United States. Michael has served as a key leader within the organization since joining the company in late 2000. An individual who has made numerous key contributions, Michael was the architect behind the design and development of the agent channel.

The Green Sheet Inc. is now a proud affiliate of Bankcard Life, a premier community that provides industry-leading training and resources for payment professionals. Click here for more information.

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

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