What keeps customers coming back?

By Nina Kaufman, Esq.

A customer comes to your business. They engage your services to solve their problem.

What keeps them coming back, though, is the experience they have while you’re solving their problem.

I tell you that to tell you this (indulge me):

Between ages 5-8, I had a piano teacher I loved. Dorothy Jonas. She was petite, beautifully dressed. Peroxide blonde hair. She was warm and encouraging. Had a white, long-haired Maltese lap dog named Lovey. And gave me a cherry dot bakery cookie after each lesson. No Mozart I, but I played well enough. I looked forward to those lessons.

But my parents wanted a Mozart. So I was pulled away from Mrs. Jonas and sent to “The Troll Under the Bridge.” A severe taskmaster. Lessons took place in the dark basement of her home. No cookies. No “support animals.” I was miserable. And ultimately stopped playing piano altogether.

What was the difference between the two? After all, both were skilled piano teachers. Both worked with children. Both provided a solution for parents who wanted musically-inclined children.

It was the experience.

Their difference in approach was a clear reflection of their values and priorities. Mrs. Jonas wanted to instill the joy of music for its own sake. Mrs. Troll wanted to instill the discipline it took to be a great pianist. Which is why I responded more to Mrs. Jonas than to Mrs. Troll.

As you know, there are many service providers who do what you do. They also provide bookkeeping services. Install windows. Write copy. Design websites. Curate conferences. Or whatever you do.

But not every customer will respond to them.

They will, though, respond to you … if you plan the process carefully.

As examples:

  • The financial advisor who sends handwritten birthday and anniversary cards
  • The real estate broker who greets new home clients with welcome baskets
  • The law firm that sends bi-weekly updates so clients stay informed
  • The medical group that provides easy access to records through a secure patient portal
  • The IT services firm with 24/7 customer service support

So what are your values and priorities? And how can you incorporate them into the way you serve your clients?

If you’d welcome a sounding board to work out “your way” (insert Frank Sinatra vocals here), I’d be happy to help.


I reconnected with Dorothy Jonas not long ago. She’s now 96. Still teaching students (she has 20!). Still drives her car. Had an international career as a concert pianist. She would still be playing piano except that she broke her wrist 2 years ago. While I don’t play piano, music has remained an important part of my life, especially as I have become a lay leader/cantor in my local synagogue. A seed that was planted many years earlier by Dorothy Jonas. A lovely legacy, eh?


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