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Poway Biz Owner Shares How to Keep Customers Coming Back

Cindi Phallen talks about cultivating relationships with clients through trust and engagement.

Googling someone you're dating is almost a given these days, but what about your clients?

For business owners, the latter is a key to professional success these days, says Cindi Phallen, who runs the consulting business Create Possibility. Phallen was the guest speaker at a recent meeting of The Rotary Club of Poway, sharing her tips on attracting and keeping customers.

The center of professional success is relationships built on trust, Phallen said, from in-person networking, to following up with current customers, to being available on social media.

You're neglecting your customers if you're not online, she said, pointing out the growing number of consumers who use mobile devices.

Here are five of Phallen's tips from her Rotary presentation about making the most of your business relationships. A quick tip: Face-to-face communication will always net the most results, she said.

Research the people you do business with.

  • "If you're not googling people, you should start," Phallen said. Business owners can set up a Google alert for their clients and keep track of what they are doing and when they are mentioned. If a client receives an award or some type of acknowledgement, you can send them an email or mention them in your newsletter to congratulate them, she said.
  • Researching can also help you find out what your clients' hobbies and interests are, or where they went to school. This can help you figure out the best way to meet their needs, she said.

Listen more.

  • Let the other person control two-thirds of the conversation.
  • Do surveys with open-ended questions and ask your clients what they want to see from you in the future.

Reach out when you don't need something.

  • Think about your clients' goals and dreams and what you can do to help support them.
  • Consider ways you can refer people to them.

Set up a customer relationship management (CRM) model that works for you.

  • Examples: Constant Contact; Excel spreadsheet. "The point is, have a plan," she said.
  • Put details about your clients in here (parents of twins; like to ski, etc.) Use these details to engage your clients.

Schedule it.

  • "It's easy to overlook some of the follow up," Phallen said, but added it's important to make it part of your business every week.
  • If it starts to feel overwhelming, delegate the work. 

And one more classic tip: "Say thank you a lot."

What are some of your tips for managing business relationships?

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