By employing several key strategies, you can prevent your competition from stealing your customers and market share.

It’s very easy for a competitor to steal your customers and market share unless you’ve put in place specific measures to prevent them from doing so.

Some strategies employed to steal or devalue a product or market include the buying of remaining inventories of your products from your customer and then “dumping” them in the marketplace. Another tactic your competitors might use is providing your customers with low-cost loans or reduced inventory carrying costs. A third is six-month accounts payables periods, which make it almost impossible for your customer not to be a little bit interested.

Here are the five keys to protecting your customer base:

Be proactive, not reactive.
Know your customers’ stated and unstated needs and wants. Know what they want even before they want and need it. Being proactive and anticipating customer requirements is a great way to protect your customers.

Be so good, your customer has no reason to change.
Understand the value of providing quality products and services. This, combined with effective customer service and a team of people focused on total customer satisfaction, can produce great results. Remember that customer service, product service, sales, customer relationships and quality are simply pieces of the total customer satisfaction pie. Total customer satisfaction is what keeps customers coming back and protects you from competitors.

Build relationships, not customers.
You bond customers to you for life when you are more than “just another supplier.” Bonding means knowing who a customer really is; what they like and dislike; how they operate; where they find their customers; when they need your help; and whatever else it takes to develop a long-term relationship. It is this relationship that will protect you when your competitors try to steal your customers.

Improve the customers’ total experience with you.
Make your customers’ experience easy, fun and efficient. Deliver on time. Deliver a quality product or service. Deliver a reasonable and competitive price.

If there is a problem, correct it immediately, and do so with a smile. Train your people to listen and ask questions so they really understand what your customer is asking them to do. Train them to do anything reasonable and possible to improve the experience of doing business with your organization.

In a world of great aggravation, people do business with people who make it easy, fun and efficient. No one does business with people who make it an unpleasant experience.

Know your competitors.
Study your competitors. Know their products and services. Know their prices. Know their customers. Know their distribution system. Know their operating style and system. Study your competitors so well that they cannot surprise you. Study them so well that you can anticipate their actions and prevent them.

These five key factors will help you protect your customers and market share from your competitors. These keys are designed to focus you into a proactive, relationship-building style which improves your customers’ experience with you and makes the experience so good they have no reason to do business with your competitors.