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Fri, 22 Jan 2010 20:44:58 GMT | By Jeff Wuorio

Keep them coming back with great service

Taking a few moments to say hello to clients, to offer them special deals, to give them a hand (literally) when they need it is a great way to ensure they your customers know they're appreciated and encourage them to return.

"Please come back again!"

In some shape or form, that phrase is one every business should be saying to each and every customer. Every businessperson understands the importance of letting your customers know how much you value them and how you can't wait to see them again. Consider some other things you can say to solidify your relationship with customers.

Be a resource
"I'll keep an eye out for other things that may interest you."

A customer buying a product or service is in a pure one-time deal.
Taking note of what they bought and letting them know that you're on the lookout for similar items is a natural enticement for them to return.

"Do you know this item is on sale?"

Recently, a buddy of mine returned to an electronics store after he found out that the software he bought on Saturday was 40 per cent off no more than 10 hours later. Yes, he came back -- but for the wrong reason. Treat your customers like you'd want to be treated. If you know something is a particularly good value, share your insight. If something's going to be cheaper in a day or so, urge them to hold off until the sale takes hold.

Put customers' needs first
"We don't have it, but the folks down the street do."

It's a natural inclination to try to make a sale whenever possible, but don't overlook the value of pointing someone elsewhere, even to a competitor. You'll gain your customers' trust -- and they'll likely return to your business again.

"This is going to cut your costs by 50 per cent."

One of the most effective means of strengthening a relationship with customers is to be as specific as possible. Letting them know precisely what's in it for them will bring them back, if for no other reason than many appreciate a business which spells out exactly what it does and why it's worth what it charges.

Exceed expectations
"Let me give you a hand with that."

This phrase personifies a business that consistently goes above and beyond. Whether it's helping someone carry out packages or simply getting the door for a client loaded down with papers, a clear message that you're willing to help out however possible stays in others'
minds. And that can often lead them right back to your door.

"Go ahead and try this out."

Giving a client or customer a small sample of what your business has to offer is a terrific way to bring them back for more. If, for instance, your business sells expensive software programs, give a prospective customer a free trial or a sample disk so he or she can get a sense of how it functions. The same holds true for service- focused concerns. All the law offices that offer free initial consultations, for example, aren't setting up those appointments just to fill downtime.

"This [sale or deal] is good through this week only."

Like them or not, deadlines work. Even a customer uncertain about a particular sale can be moved to come back if she knows that, come a certain date, the deal is gone. So, if it's a question of a sale or some other time-sensitive arrangement, don't be shy about making it clear that the bargain isn't permanent.

Try to put a name with a face
"How are you doing, Jeff?"

This last bit of advice, commonly known though it may be, makes the list based on personal experience. To be blunt: I don't really like my bank. It's not particularly convenient, the charges are occasionally mysterious, and I'd change in a minute were I not so lazy.

But there is, admittedly, another reason I stay put. Every teller in the place knows me by name and consistently greets me in that fashion.
It means something to us all when someone takes the time and effort to remember who we are.

If yours is a relatively small operation, try to call your customers by name. If there are too many faces coming and going to make that practical, at least single out a few key names. If they like what you do, that can certainly keep them coming back.

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