Work around what is important to customers

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Ms Reynolds owner of Collaborative, a growth consultancy based in Pontefract, gives ten top tips for start-ups and small businesses.

1. Research the Market. It’s essential to understand what your customer expects from companies in your market sector, and why they need your product or service.

2. Talk to your Customer. Ask them what is important to them – great service, advice, willingness to help with an immediate problem? The answers can often be quite different to your own expectations.

3. Examine the Competition. After you find out what’s important to your client, ask them how you compare with other companies in your market sector. Don’t be scared of honest feedback – good or bad is always useful.

4. Explore their Customer Base. When you know who they deal with and how you can help them deliver, you can tailor your service to suit and improve the value you add to your clients’ businesses.

5. Ask for Referrals. When your customer values your relationship they will recommend you to their contacts. But everyone’s busy so don’t be afraid to ask.

6. Look for Sales Opportunities. An organisation will not typically sell all their products to all their customers.

7. Calculate Profit by Customer. By attributing costs to each of your services, you can quickly work out which customers are worth the effort.

8. Improve your Internal Systems. The more efficient you are, the better your service will be and the less it will cost you to provide for your customer.

9. Communicate Regularly. CRM systems, regular phone calls and automated emails can help a growing business.

10. Cash is King. We all know this, but sometimes we fear upsetting the customer by being good at collecting cash.