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How to get customers to buy more

Your customers exhibit the loyalty for which every dealer hopes. However, when you seriously analyze your sales results, you don’t really love your numbers. They’re flat. What’s up?

In most cases, it’s because you’ve failed to capture the economic potential of the goodwill in your customer base. So says Rob Markey, co-author of “The Ultimate Question 2.0: How Net Promoter Companies Thrive in a Customer-Driven World(HBR Press) and a partner in Bain & Company in New York.

Markey contends loyalty means customers like doing business with you. So they should stick with you longer, buy more and tell their friends. “But the economic benefit comes only when customers act on those feelings and companies can make it easier or harder for them to do so,” Markey explains.

Writing “Make It Easier for Happy Customers to Buy More” in a recent edition of Harvard Business Review, Markey offered some excellent advice that I find worth passing on for serious consideration by marine dealers desiring to turn loyalty into bottom-line results.

First, learn more about your most loyal customers. Companies often work hard to learn the causes of customer dissatisfaction and well they should. But Markey emphasizes that it’s equally important to determine the sources of customer delight. For example, if they’re happy with product quality, what in particular do they cite? Or if they like the buying experience, what was it that most impressed them? After all, you can’t replicate an action that earned loyalty if you don’t know what it was.

Second, get to know your most loyal customers. Doing so can reveal both strengths and weaknesses in your product offerings, services or customer care and feeding. It could help you discover unmet needs — you don’t want competitors meeting those needs — and it will also enable you to fine-tune your offerings to meet wishes they reveal.

Third, help them spread the word. “When there’s a drum-tight fit between what you offer and what your best customers want,” Markey writes, “you’ll want to help them sing your praises. Provide them with the kind of stories they will actually tell to friends, giving those friends a reason to buy from you.”

The stories can come from mundane, everyday services. Or perhaps they’d reflect some exceptional service in a tough situation. There are likely many interesting anecdotes. Stories of goodwill by the dealership or charitable efforts the dealership is supporting. Stories about how employees made a real difference for boating families and the dealership organizing, educating and opening new horizons for customers and more. The stories can take the form of references, videos, email newsletters and the use of social media.

Overall, Markey makes his most powerful point when he urges taking time to know more about your customers. That, he contends, will let you tailor products and services to fit perfectly into your customers’ lives and cater to their boating preferences. The result: it’s easier for your happy customers to remain loyal and buy more.

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