Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Customer Retention: Oy Vey…What NOT to Do!

Like most Yated readers, my observance of the “3 Weeks” was preceded with a visit to the local barbershop. While I generally patronize a shop near my home owned by a Russian fellow, for the past few months I was unable to use him due to “scheduling conflicts.” So when I went in to his barbershop for a haircut right before Shiva Asar B'Tammuz, I was sure he'd welcome me back with a smile and hello (and maybe even a bear hug!). Actually, I got a lot more than just a routine greeting – I got a one-of-a-kind Mi Shebeirach that would leave my shul's gabbai absolutely speechless. “My friend,” he began. “Where you be lately?”

“What is matter, you no like me no more?” he continued in his thick accent. “Why you go to other barbers? I tell you, I only give the best haircuts in Brooklyn. If you go to anybody else, you no look good. Mister, you only look nice if you come to me for haircut! You understand?”


Sounds too outrageous to be true?


Tell me about it! My good friend and noted insurance expert, Marc Rovner, happened to be in the barbershop as well and almost fell out of his chair in laughter while witnessing the unbelievable spectacle that was unfolding before his eyes.


To be fair, on one hand I appreciated that my Russian barber remembered me and sincerely wanted to continue offering me his haircutting services.


On the other hand, I wish someone would teach him “a more tactful way” of letting me know that I was sorely missed. I mean, how in the world can a business owner “rank out” a customer — in front of a shop full of other customers no less! — and expect that client to return?


So in keeping with the series of “customer retention,” here are some Do’s and Don’ts to keep your customers coming back:


DO Acknowledge Your Customers — From answering ringing office phones right away, to a simple “I’ll be right with you” for customers waiting for assistance, acknowledging your customers immediately will definitely help boost your customer retention levels.


DO Know Your Customers — Learn some information about the people you serve. Find out their full names and greet them by name whenever possible. Get birthday or anniversary information and offer them congratulations — or even send a card — around that time of year.


DO Ask Customers For Their Opinions — It’s always good to ask customers about their overall experience and what improvements they would like. They feel respected…and you’ll get free feedback on how to improve operations even more.


DON’T Ask Customers Why They Haven’t Patronized You Lately — You’re not a KGB agent and your clients aren’t prisoners. They have a right to go wherever they want. If you so badly want their patronage, focus on providing them with a first-class experience…and they’ll be back for more.


DON’T Talk Negatively About The Competition — The best way to prove to customers that you’re above the competition is by showing it through positive actions; not by badmouthing the competitor down the block.


DON’T Insult Customers — Must I really explain why this is a major no-no?!


So while I don’t know if my local Russian barber will be reading this article and implementing these simple, yet important, customer retention tips, I do hope that those enjoying this article will heed the message and create their own successful customer retention guidelines.


Try them and see the results for yourself…it’ll make your company or business a cut above the rest.


Bottom Line Action Step: Mention your clients’ name at least once in every conversation with them.



Yitzchok Saftlas is the CEO of Bottom Line Marketing Group, a premier marketing agency recognized for its goal-oriented branding, sales, recruitment and fundraising techniques. Serving corporate, non-profit and political clientele, Bottom Line’s notable clients include: Mike Bloomberg for Mayor, Dirshu and TeachNYS.


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