In a time when competition and pricing pressure affect the electrical industry, it’s especially important to maintain and build your business by taking care of current customers.

Repeat business from loyal customers is a key revenue source and leads to referral business—the best marketing method. What’s more, keeping current customers happy requires fewer resources than finding new ones.

Following are nine suggestions for retaining customers and rewarding them for their loyalty:

1. Be professional

When you interact with customers, be professional in both approach and language. Being courteous, respectful and kind rewards your customers by making them feel good. The same holds true for how you interact with employees and coworkers, whether they are with you in front of clients or not. If a customer does not behave in a professional manner, continue to maintain your appropriate demeanor.

2. Be responsive

When customers request information from your company, respond as quickly as possible, even if it is just to let them know that you are working on getting them answers. If you know which method of communication your client prefers (phone, email, text, etc.), reply to them using that method when they have asked you for input.

3. Make it easy for customers to do business with you

Can customers connect quickly with you or someone else on your team? If the customer needs to leave a voicemail, can they expect a return call the same hour, or at least the same day? Are your processes and paperwork simple? Do you offer flexible project scheduling options? The sooner you can say, “we’ve got this,” the sooner you can put the client at ease and dig in on projects.

4. Engage your customers

When you bring up a topic that you know is of interest to your customer, you build both personal and professional connections. You may want to keep notes in your client’s profile about their families and interests, so you can pick up where you left off the last time you were in communication with each other.

Do more listening than talking—patiently allow your customer to share his or her thoughts. Resist jumping in with your agenda, and wait until he or she has finished speaking to provide your input. He or she will appreciate this demonstration of respect, and it makes you more likable, which may lead to more work.

Keep them thinking of you—proactively send an email or snail mail letter on a quarterly basis that puts your business front and center. Include tips and tricks or a short article that provides them with useful free information.

5. Own your mistakes

If an issue arises during a project, be honest, take responsibility for it and do whatever it takes to make things right. That approach will figure heavily toward getting both repeat and referral business.

6. Compensate customers for referrals

Don’t be afraid to ask if customers have friends and family who could use your services. Reward customers with a gift card or check for each referral, and provide a discount to the customer to whom you were referred as well.

If your company has a website and a presence on social media, promote your referral program anywhere that potential customers may be surfing.

Thank customers who provide positive reviews through sites such as Yelp or Angie’s List, but don’t bribe them to write a good review.

7. Be generous with your network

When you share contacts outside of your area of expertise with your clients, you widen your pool of potential customers and referral sources.

8. Follow up post-project

Call the client quickly after the project has been completed to ask if they are satisfied with your work—and to see how they are doing in general. You will demonstrate that you care about them both as clients and as people. It’s a good idea to have a short checklist of questions to ask them about the work done for which you would like their feedback. If you want for the client to complete a more in-depth evaluation, give them a heads up that you will be sending them a survey to complete via U.S. Mail or email after your post-project call. Survey Monkey offers an easy-to-use system for creating and sending surveys via email.

Send a hand-written thank you note that includes your business card and content that is specific to them. For example, for a client who has a cool dog named Otis, you can write, “Tell Otis that it was fun playing fetch with him.” That’s a feel-good that is tailored to your customer.

If the nature of your project warrants sending a thank you gift, you can customize it to the client as well. Perhaps the customer mentioned that he or she saw an ad for great dog bowls that are inscribed with the dog’s name. Otis and your customer would think of you every time that bowl was filled with kibble.

Call again after they’ve had a couple of weeks to enjoy the benefits of your project. If you reach their voicemail, leave a message stating that you wanted to check in to see if everything is still going well with the project you handled. Also, ask if they are thinking about scheduling future projects (insert request for referrals here).

9. Make interactions memorable

Your clients will enjoy telling friends and family the story of how the project unfolded and was completed. Even more importantly, they will share how they were treated and how you and your team made them feel. Were you courteous to their children and their pets? People remember being treated kindly.

When to move on

Before wrapping up, let’s recall times that we did not want to retain a client. Sometimes we need to consider the financial impact of retaining a difficult customer. If someone has cost you too much in time, work orders, materials, and mental exhaustion, it may be best to move along. If the difficulty was simply caused by the customer’s communication style, you might be surprised to receive referrals from him or her in the future.

Try some of the ways described above to retain and reward customers that you have not already implemented. When you give your customers attention and show them appreciation, they reward you with more business!