It’s Valentines day, and we’re getting all lovey-dovey. Here’s how to make sure that your customers fall in love you with you over and over again.

Every business owner knows that the key to long-term success is repeat business. It costs significantly more to acquire a new customer than to retain a existing one. Yet look at your own company, and honestly ask yourself: How much more money is invested in marketing and sales to acquire new customers, compared to making sure your existing customers feel loved?

Chances are, once you have captured a new customer, the effort you put into them decreases significantly.

This is where you should think of your business relationships like you think about personal relationships. Fundamentally(let’s not start discussing all the nuances of bad relationships here), there are two reasons why people stay in relationships with each other:

  1. There are negative consequences associated with leaving a bad relationship: In people’s relationships, some people stay together even though its not great, due to fear of being alone, hurting the other person’s feelings, outside pressure to be together or having a lower quality of life independently. In business, sometimes there are actual penalties for leaving, like charges or last-minute upgrades to keep people happy.
  2. There are reasons to stay in a good relationship: People also stay together because both people feel even better together than apart. This is especially true when both parties know that the other person is putting effort and thought into making your life better. In business, these are the mutually beneficial relationships where both parties know they’re getting value.

Which one of the two examples do you think leads to relationships which last over time, both in business and life? It’s obviously number 2.

You’re asking what this has to do with innovation. Two of the 10 Types of Innovation you can try in your company are Customer Experience and Service. Its all about improving your customer’s perception of why you give them a better experience than is available anywhere else. Some companies have mastered this, like Zappos, the online fashion retailer who’s main focus is on doing EVERYTHING it can to make the customer happy, even when they aren’t expecting it, and continue to reap the benefits of some of the most loyal customers in the world.

A more recent example was that last week, out of the blue, I got a call from my mobile phone carrier. They told me that as I was a loyal customer, they’d noticed that I was going over my monthly minutes as I needed to call business hotlines. So they told me that they would include all of these numbers into my account’s minutes at the same price I was already paying. It ends up costing them a few pounds of additional revenue, but they’ve made me question why I should ever leave them.

So I challenge you: What is the last change you made company-wide with the sole focus on improving your customer’s experience with your offering? What would you be willing to offer a customer who was about to leave, and why aren’t you phoning / emailing them today saying that as a token of gratitude they will be getting it for free now?

Successful business is based on loyalty. And if you devote a bit more of your marketing and sales budget to finding innovations which increase satisfaction and loyalty, you’ll see the benefits

How will you show your customers you love them today? Let me know in the comments below.

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