Holiday Hints for Better Sales: Keep Your Best Customers Happy This Holiday Season

Why VIP treatment for certain customers will fatten your holiday goose.

Take advantage of the seasonal spending spike and increase your small business sales. To maximize holiday transactions, the Sloan brothers offer this series of six key strategies.

The adage “Take care of your customers, and your customers will take care of you” speaks for itself. But it’s especially true for your best customers. Treat them like the great asset they are, and they’ll respond with loyalty and increased sales for years to come. That’s never truer than during the holiday shopping season.

The fact is that long-standing satisfied customers cost less than their dissatisfied or newly acquired counterparts, and generate more revenue. For most businesses, about 80 percent of revenue comes from about 20 percent of customers ‑ and that 20 percent needs to be treated well, even better than your other customers.

If you want your customers to be more loyal, shift your focus, says Alan Zimmerman, motivational speaker and author of PIVOT: How One Turn in Attitude Can Lead to Success . “Many organizations have the wrong focus. They spend too much of their time and money trying to win over ‘dissatisfied’ and ‘highly dissatisfied’ customers, and they spend too little of their time and money trying to turn their satisfied customers into highly satisfied customers. It’s a big mistake.”

Zimmerman doesn’t advocate ignoring dissatisfied customers. “Not at all,” he says. “In fact some of the most loyal customers were once dissatisfied customers.

“I’m just saying you should devote more attention to your satisfied customers. Your payback will be much greater.”

In a crunch, concentrate on keeping satisfied customers satisfied. If you’ve fallen behind and then add resources to catch up during this period, your natural instinct might be to fulfill your oldest open orders. But once you know you can keep up with new orders, you should draw a line at that point, service those and then gradually reach back to satisfy the older backlog.

“With the newest customers, give them the kind of excellent service that you had intended to give everyone all along, then begin working the backlog,” says Paul Kowal, a customer-service expert in Cambridge, Mass. “Otherwise you’re going to have twice the number of dissatisfied people and problems on your hands.”

Not only do satisfied customers generate more revenue than dissatisfied ones with their repeat business, but there’s another plus: They generate new business through word-of-mouth advertising. Once you’ve taken care of them, then you can turn your attention to those who aren’t so satisfied. Take care of their complaints and they’re likely to become customer advocates, too.

That’s a holiday bonus just for you.

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