There’s usually a brief honeymoon period after you gain a new customer. Expectations are high for both you and the customer.
The honeymoon period is the most dangerous time in a new account relationship. When new accounts run aground, it’s not the problems that trip you up as much as their timing.
Studies show that customers expect bumps in the road at the beginning of a relationship, followed by steady improvement.
But progress often slows after a fast start, usually because you and your customer start to tackle tougher issues. You begin to see new obstacles. You may have to retool your solutions.
Meanwhile the customer wonders what’s wrong. Usually nothing’s wrong. You and your customer are simply on the steep part of the learning curve. Once you get over the hump, progress may pick up again.
A hidden opportunity
It’s tough to manage customer expectations when problems surface after the honeymoon period. A better way is to inoculate a new customer by warning them about the bumps that may surface in the relationship.
If you warn customers ahead of time, it shows you know your business. If you wait until it happens, it sounds like excuses.
You will never know exactly what new customers will want after they become repeat buyers. Keeping them depends on looking ahead, perceiving new opportunities and being flexible enough to make creative moves.
Source: John R. Graham, president of Graham & Associates, a marketing and sales training firm in Quincy, MA.