How do you classify a good customer for your business? A good customer will be different for every business.

  • In retail a good customer will probably be one who returns time and time again because of what you sell, your prices, your customer service or just because they love your shop.
  • If you are selling online your best customer will be one that purchases frequently so you need to have a product that people want, a website that is easy to navigate and a simple payment system.
  • In manufacturing a good customer will be one that really buys into your product, places frequent large orders and pays you on time.
  • And in the service industry a good customer will be one that really appreciates what you do for them, provides you with what you need to do the best job possible and pays promptly.

Many businesses can't choose their customer but in the service industry you are fortunate in being able to decide whether you and your potential customer can work together.  Sometimes you know instinctively that it will not work and other times you are sure it will but as time goes on the relationship becomes more difficult.

Businesses which provide ongoing services to their customers need to review their customer base from time to time to see if they are providing the right service for their customer and also whether their customer is still the right fit for them.  This is something we do regularly because our customers needs change and we find we can no longer give them the service that is best for their business.

This year, for example, we "lost" our largest customer.  Well, not so much "lost" as suggesting to them that it was time to move on from us.  We had worked with them for almost six years and seen their business grow to a point where we could no longer support them in the way we felt they needed.  So we recruited a permanent bookkeeper for them and supported the bookkeeper through her first six months.  We still work with that business on a monthly basis but they have benefited from having someone on hand much more often but with the backup of someone who has known their business for many years.  

Business growthWe are now recruiting for another business we have worked with for 14 months which is seeing massive growth and which now needs daily support which we are not able to provide them with.  Its hard to make that decision when they are a great customer and you know they really appreciate what you have done but there doesn't seem to be any point keeping customers, who may be your best customers, if you really can't provide them with what is best for their business. Business needs change and if we can see that a business needs someone to work regularly within their business and this is something we can't do then we will tell them. Equally if we can't build a good relationship with our customers or we find getting the paperwork we need to do our job is becoming impossible then we would suggest that someone else might be better for them.  

So whilst a good customer has to be one that is enjoyable to work with, appreciates what we do and pays on time we also have to be a good supplier and ensure we provide our customers with what they really need and not just keep them because that is the easy option.  It is very important to review your customer base regularly and not continually add new customers who may not be the best fit for you or you for them.

Who is a good customer for your business?