B2B With Adam Lieberman
May 13, 2021
Connecting with Customers
Denny, endowed with an overactive spirit, a wild imagination, and a touch of ADHD, had barely made it
through high school. With low grades and little in the way of marketable skills, he may not have been
considered a success story by most yardsticks. But Denny was a friendly guy, outgoing and easygoing
and liked by everyone who knew him. He had seemingly endless energy and an upbeat attitude and knew
how to get things done.
After spending too many years stocking shelves at a local pharmacy, he finally had the epiphany that
launched him to success. He did have a marketable skill, and a priceless one at that.
Denny had a knack for developing connections, and eventually trust, with the shoppers at the pharmacy.
He was approachable and helpful, and he remembered the details of customers’ lives. He loved asking
after their sick grandma or inquiring about the effectiveness of the antibiotics they had picked up the
previous week. He remembered their faces and their names, and the customers had come to trust him,
asking his opinion on products and following his advice.
Denny’s old friend Mark had been out of work for a while before finally deciding to open a new car
washing place earlier that year. When he’d launched Mark’s Sparkling Car Wash, Mark owned two hoses,
some buckets and rags, loads of soap, and a clientele made up mostly of friends and family. He rented a
tiny lot at the edge of town and waited for the customers to come.
As the weeks bled into months, though, the Mark’s Sparkling Car Wash client base did not expand. With
barely any new customers and a limited number of times his cousins could have their cars cleaned, the
business was precariously close to bankruptcy.
It was during these dire times that Denny had his great revelation. With newfound confidence, he decided
to share his skill set with his struggling friend, and he offered to join the car washing venture as a partner.
Denny would work to attract and interact with customers while Mark handled behind-the-scenes details
like bookkeeping, buying, and inventory. They would both be washing cars, as they could not yet afford to
hire other workers.
When he joined, Denny thought it would be a good idea to offer a buy-one-get-one car wash to all new
patrons. Excited, Mark and Denny headed to Home Depot in Mark’s battered F-150. Together, they
bought cardboard and paints and went about proclaiming, in bright, wide brushstrokes, that they were
offering the once-in-a-lifetime deal. Later, they drove around planting the signs wherever they could,
hoping that as many people as possible would notice.
The plan worked well, drawing attention to the little shop. Car owners flocked to Mark’s, eager to cash in
on a free car wash while the promo lasted. Over time, the place gained popularity. On most days, the lot
was packed with cars, and Mark and Denny could barely keep up with the demand. They soon hired two
employees just to keep the lines moving.
As the business grew, Denny was always attentive to his customers. He noticed every new client, making
sure to learn their name and preferences. He cultivated relationships with the clients, making them feel
like they were a part of a wider family.
What kept them coming back was more than the good cleaning and the reasonable prices. The shoppers
felt valued; they felt important; they felt like they belonged there.
Building the relationship
There’s a well-known quote, “People do not care how much you know until they know how much you
There is an almost endless buffet of options when it comes to most businesses. With such a vast variety
of prices, locations, and options, there is always a novel place to try, a brand-new shop to check out.
What makes your clients return, what inspires both their loyalty as well as their desire to come back again
and again, is that they know, like, and trust you. In the end, it’s all about the relationship.
Building a client base is about getting customers into your store and then motivating them to keep on
returning. Below are some ideas that can help you gain and keep your patrons.
The true priority
Business owners often make the mistake of investing too much time, effort, and resources into attracting
new customers, while in fact the clients who already frequent their establishments are the most valuable
source of business. Since it is easier to get a client to return than to gain new clients, customer retention
and frequency of interaction are key to corporate success.
Rather than overinvesting in marketing to the masses, focus on reaching those who have already done
business with you.
Once a customer makes a purchase, it’s easy to get them to spend more the next time they come. On a
subconscious level, people are always trying to justify their decisions. That is why a client will often
increase patronage once they have done business with you, even making purchases on a grander scale
as they attempt to reinforce and validate the decisions they made.
Making the connection
So how do you get the customer back in the door? As the saying goes, you never get a second chance to
make a first impression. The interaction during that first visit must be impactful enough to make the
customer want to keep on coming back for more.
You have to connect with the customer. People want to feel heard; they want to feel valued. Notice them;
speak to them.
One proven method that shows customers that you appreciate them and care about their experience is
asking for their thoughts in the form of short, concise surveys. Bear in mind that better questions get
better answers: If you ask, “Did you have a good experience?” you will likely receive a single-syllable
answer. Instead, ask thought-provoking questions that invite opinions, observations, new ideas, and yes,
Find out one way you could improve your clients’ future visits or what difficulty they had with shopping.
Ask in which way the service could be better or what they would like to see in the future. Find out what
excited them and what was disappointing to them. This not only makes your customers feel valued and
appreciated, it also guides you in improving future consumer experiences.
Make an offer that gets people inside your shop. A first-timer gift card, a free consultation…these draw
Give clients a reason to return. One effective way of incentivizing consumers is by using a system where
every dollar they spend adds up and becomes reward points. Another practical idea is punch cards,
where a set number of purchases earns the client a free gift or rebate. For a first-time visitor, consider
punching their card three times. It has been shown that doing so will make the person feel that they are
so close to receiving the gift, it would be a waste to throw it away.
New habits (for better or for worse) are easily formed. Once a client has done something three to five
times, that behavior is on the way to becoming a normal part of their daily routine. If a man stops by your
bakery for a donut and a coffee for a few mornings, the visit can easily become a built-in slice of his
morning schedule. The more welcome you make him feel, the more at home he feels in your bakery, the
more likely he is to return over and over again.