How can we get more out of our customers?

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My company is fairly small and we have been growing organically over the past few years - slow and steady - so I guess I can't complain.

But, I find it frustrating that we aren't earning more from our existing customers who all seem happy with our service and use it often (plenty of repeat business).

The problem is that while we have the capacity to do more, it's difficult to know what we can and can't do to get better profits without endangering the good thing we already have going.

We can up-sell and cross-sell and all that, but I'm not that keen to convert our service into a walking advertisement.

What can we do to grow faster and get more from our customers?

Tips on how to organically increase profits

In order to start generating better returns per customer it is important to make sure that they are "on your side" first.

This means developing your relationship with them and making sure that they are happy and loyal to your business.

It sounds like you already have a good platform to start with, but here a few tips that might help or inspire you to be more effective.

1. Understand user intent

Are you certain you know exactly what value customers are getting from your service?

I have a startup that was designed to help authors and publishers track their online sales, but it turns out this service is more valuable to retailers trying to work out what products to stock.

Trying to market additional services aimed at the original target market is essentially useless because that's not what the bulk of the customer base are interested in.

2. Utilize existing visibility intelligently

I absolutely agree that you should avoid excessive up-selling and cross-selling that potentially dilute the core offering or make things difficult or unclear for customers.

But, while you have the attention of people, there are definitely spaces to reach out to them in an unobtrusive manner.

For example, one of my sites has a logoff page that killed the client's session and displayed a quick note along the lines of, "Thanks for using us".

Every single customer who finished a session ends up seeing an essentially blank page. It's wasted real estate that can be better put to use without affecting the overall experience.

A good example of this is the PayPal log out page, which offers users additional products, services and deals that they may be interested in:

PayPal log out page using cross and upselling techniques

3. Keep learning

I personally tend to dislike being bombarded with questions and surveys from companies I use. I find them intrusive.

So while I think the implementation of market research is poor in most companies, at least they are making the effort to find out what I (the customer) am after.

Find ways to learn what customers think without inconveniencing them. You'll have to be creative to find strategies that work for your particular enterprise.

4. Engage better

Customer service is absolutely vital to the long term health of any venture.

I think it is the stupidest idea in the world to outsource customer service to a mediocre offshore party, instead of grabbing the opportunity to engage with customers and build positive experiences with them directly.

Don't treat customer service as an administrative task. Treat it as a core function of your business.

5. Be more than a service/product

Try move away from a strict company/client relationship by freely giving value in, on and around your core offering.

A good way to do this is to offer great content. You could have a free support forum, or create a niche industry blog, etc.

Becoming more than just another drain on precious resources reduces the risk of being considered expendable when money is tight... and money is always tight these days.

I hope these tips will help you to come up with your own ways of generate more revenue. If you have any great ideas not discussed here, share them in the comments.