Without repeat business, your company will cease to exist. One of the easiest ways to generate repeat business is to answer your customer’s questions and provide additional information. When a customer asks a question, sales associates are presented with an opportunity to build a relationship with someone who is fully engaged in the purchasing process. Questions are the customer’s way of inviting you to become a valuable guide in their journey. A salesperson accepts that invitation by taking the time to anticipate the “detours” and other obstacles that might lie ahead. Often times, this is the information that has the most profound effect on the customer in order to gain their repeat business.

One word answers can destroy the opportunity to generate repeat business

“Yes” and “no” are one-word answers that are worse than inadequate. They are so lacking in useful information that they can often mislead. In fact, they are such a reliable source of frustration that moviemakers have relied on them for decades as the linchpin for comic dialogue. This old joke has been used in more than one movie: A guest appears at the front desk of a charming country inn, where a small dog is reclining on the carpet. The guest asks, “Does your dog bite?” and the desk clerk replies absently, “No.” So the guest bends to pet the dog, which viciously snaps at his outstretched hand. “I thought you said your dog doesn’t bite!” the alarmed guest exclaims. The desk clerk replies, “Oh, that’s not my dog.” How many times have you had a “that’s not my dog” experience with a salesperson or a call center agent?

“Why am I paying additional for this?”
“Why didn’t you tell me I didn’t need this option?”
“Why didn’t you warn me the colors wouldn’t match?”

In each case, you are basically told, “you didn’t ask.” The responsibility is put back on you, the customer. If you are proactive and anticipate the customer’s need for additional information, you become a source of direction and focus that will help that customer solve a tricky problem or fulfil the wish that brought them to you in the first place. It builds a connection which facilitates repeat business and shows the customer they can get help if they need it.

Additional information is great, but it needs to be useful information

We have found that 95% of customers who are provided additional useful information are delighted with the interaction. That’s because, first and foremost, you have demonstrated that you are listening and fulfilling the fundamental need of every customer. Then, if you can anticipate the customer’s needs with your answer, you are able to create an experience that is unique and special. Delighting consumers directly translates into repeat business.

In a contact center, you can train your agents to anticipate the needs of customers and provide that additional useful information. However, it can also be included in your knowledgebase software. For example, if someone is calling about a discontinued product, add some alternatives on that product’s page for the representative to recommend. In a discontinued product situation, the only way you will get repeat business is if you keep them in the brand family with another one of your products.

E-commerce sites offer numerous opportunities to provide customers with additional information. Our favorite e-commerce sites show us not only what else is frequently purchased with the item we are viewing, but also what other items have been purchased by customers who have viewed the same. This is automated additional useful information that encourages repeat business from the customer. The automated systems of useful information used on e-commerce sites can be a model for live representatives on how to provide the best possible level of service.

So, if you find yourself wondering, why can’t I generate more repeat business? Start with making sure you answer more than the customer’s question. Encourage your staff to engage, and provide some additional useful information to their customers.

Richard R. Shapiro is Founder and President of The Center For Client Retention (TCFCR) and a leading authority in the area of customer satisfaction and loyalty. For 30 years, Richard has spearheaded the research conducted with thousands of customers from Fortune 100 and 500 companies compiling the ingredients of customer loyalty and what drives repeat business. His first book was The Welcomer Edge: Unlocking the Secrets to Repeat Business and The Endangered Customer: 8 Steps to Guarantee Repeat Business, was released February, 2016.