Anatomy of a Business Relationship

How is it that we morph from being customers (one-time purchaser) to clients (loyal customers)?

I had reason to think about that question this week as I analyzed my relationship with Dee, the owner of Papillion Day Spa here in Columbus.

Dee had a business display at a Columbus Business First Breakfast in September, ’09, at the Hilton on Polaris (happens to be where her business is located).

As I was leaving, I had to pass Dee’s table, and since I was in need of some make-up, I inquired about what kind she carried. Dee was friendly and easy to talk to. She answered my questions and encouraged me to stop by the spa.

I did, in fact, stop by and make a purchase – and Dee remembered me: always a good part of customer service! I inquired about what services she offered, and discovered that she had a hairstylist and a manicurist. I was casually looking for a new hairstylist, got Andrea’s contact information and began a client relationship with her. Eventually, I made the decision to splurge and get a manicure, and started a client relationship with Amy. Meanwhile, Dee started advertising monthly specials via email. This past week, I really stretched  my comfort zone and took advantage of an email coupon for a facial. Of course, the result was fantastic!

So what happened here? From the business owner’s viewpoint: Dee took the risk and advertised herself at a business networking event. She provided information and a gracious invitation to stop in and talk with her. She provided good customer service and a range of services that would appeal to me. She kept in contact with me with a monthly email that provided special pricing on services that I would be interested in. She provided a setting that is complementary to her services.

From a customer’s viewpoint, she was on the scene physically, with product, where I was. She remembered talking with me when I did drop in at her spa for my first informal visit. That was impressive.  She has friendly employees who add to the professional setting. Of course, I’m very satisfied with the product. She has kept in touch monthly via email: not too much (companies that are in my face every day drive me crazy!), just enough.

I am a satisfied customer, and yes, I have given her name out to my friends.

If you are a business owner, what are you doing to move your one-time customers up the ‘client-ladder?’

If you are a loyal satisfied customer, do you have your friend’s business card so that you can give a referral?

In today’s economy, a referral is the highest recommendation you can give!

What is your experience as a business owner, or as a customer? Please leave a comment!

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