17 April, 2012, by Francine Pickering

Customer Stickiness: getting customers to come back, buy more and recommend you to others

Speakers: Duncan Shaw, Nottingham University Business School and Linda Frier, Coalesco Accountants

Linda Frier and Duncan Shaw

Linda Frier and Duncan Shaw

Post by Francine Pickering, Ingenuity.

Give customers a remarkable experience.
Be always useful to your customers.
Make your customers’ lives easier.

These three principles of keeping customers sticking close to you were presented by Duncan Shaw and wholeheartedly backed up by Linda Frier’s own experience in business.

The key is to understand what your customers value and that different customers will most probably value different things. It’s essential to match what you want to sell with what your customers want, expect and desire from the service you provide.

Duncan recommended asking your customers, what do they love? And what do they hate?

On the “loves” list you’ll find: pleasant surprises, new solutions, nice experiences and good suggestions.

If you understand what makes your customers tick, you’ll be better able to anticipate the suggestions you can make that will make their lives easier and provide you with opportunities to up-sell and cross-sell to them. Linda Frier’s practical advice was to keep a spreadsheet that includes details of what you sell along with details of what you have sold to a client to readily in order to be able to readily identify these opportunities when conversations with that client reveal their changing needs.

On the “hates” list, you’ll find common problems, confusions, complexities and barriers to progress – all of which offer similar opportunities to the alert business owner.

Duncan reminded the audience of the process that every customer goes through on the route to making a purchase and beyond. Each point is anpurchase decision opportunity to learn more about your customers and an opportunity to influence them.

What should you be doing through these stages?

  • Giving suggestions and ideas – think Amazon’s “Customers who bought this also bought…” section.
  • Helping your customers to make the right choice.
  • Understanding how they use your product or service – it might not be how you planned or expect.
  • Understanding how it helps them – again it might not be for the reasons you sell it.
  • Using and building on how other customers are solving their own buying decisions.

Linda Frier has enjoyed a 100% client retention rate for her accountancy practice and tripled fees in just four years of business through a dedication to exemplary customer service.

Her first practical tip was to sell and sell again, striking while the iron is hot. Her point is not to pester clients with a hard sell but to be prepared to sell in additional services when the time is right for those clients. By understanding what their needs and ambitions are it becomes possible to make the right suggestion at the right time and, in the process, make the sale much easier.

A frequent communications calendar is vital, with the right communication at the right time, using a mix personal phone calls, email newsletters, and social media, all aimed at reinforcing that the client made the right decision when they chose Coalesco as their accountants.

Customer Stickiness the Coalesco Way – presentation slides

Extraordinary customer services means going beyond the call of duty to help a client. Linda’s example of marshalling her team to bail out a client held hostage by last year’s Icelandic volcanic ash cloud is hopefully one of a kind but it certainly won her plenty of loyalty. She also emphasised that, when things do go wrong, it’s important to focus on the three As – admit the mistake, apologise for it, and take action to put it right – immediately.

Leading on from that, Linda’s fourth point is that product or service integrity is essential to meeting the ethical standards in business that clients need, expect and want. She left with the thought that ”a complaint is a gift”. With 96% of dissatisfied customers typically not complaining, just taking their business elsewhere, it’s essential that customers know that they can voice a complaint and how to do so. Just as importantly, though, is that they know they will be listened to and their complaints addressed.

The audience said:

“Probably the best Ingenuity event I’ve been to so far – practical & soundly based.”
“The session will help me focus more on my customers.”
“I learned some very valuable lessons about understanding my customers’ needs.”

Coalesco Accountants, Nottingham
Duncan Shaw, Nottingham University Business School
Managing Working Capital – 29th May 2012 – free breakfast event


The Ingenuity Knowledge Exchange breakfasts are free and open to all business owners. The next event is on the theme of Managing Working Capital and sees Professor Bob Berry from Nottingham University Business School discussing the essential subject of managing working capital and how it could be an easier source of finance for your business than trying to get a bank loan.

Posted in Ingenuity Knowledge Exchange