It almost goes without saying that good customer service is essential to sustaining any business.
It doesn’t matter how great a job you are doing of attracting new customers. You won’t be ultimately successful unless you have a credible customer retention strategy in place – and in action.
One of the most important components of an effective retention strategy is memorable, outstanding customer service. With the level of competition in the marketplace, consumers’ expectations are greater than ever and businesses that fail to deliver great customer service are at risk of losing market share.
What is Customer Service?
Keep in mind that what really counts are your actions. It doesn’t matter what you promise to do, or what is laid out in your policy. What people will remember is what you or your employees have done – or not done, and how they were made to feel when interacting with your company.
There are three key reasons why it is important to be a customer-focused business:
- If you are nice to your customers, they will return.
- If you make your customers feel special, they won’t forget it. As Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” This is why people who have been poorly treated by a particular company will likely never return. Conversely, if you make a mistake with an order, if you are you are nice and quick to cater to the customer, they won’t hold it against you, and you will see them again because you made them feel valued.
- Your business will stand out for it.
If you are really interested in setting yourself apart from the pack, you can excel in business as long as you are committed to providing the type of service that goes above and beyond what is typically expected.
The fact of the matter is, happy and satisfied customers make for great advertisement. Not only will they be loyal to your business, but they will also spread the word about your business to their family, their friends and even their social network.
This is great because a truly happy customer will find ways to make sure their friends try you too. And once their connections have tried your product or service and experienced the same level of satisfaction, the cycle simply continues.
So, how can you demonstrate your commitment to customer satisfaction? How can you build a business that focuses outwardly on the customer, and not inwardly on the business?
Develop Passion and Commitment
Passion and commitment are the fundamental building block of a customer-focused business. Without these critical elements, the foundation of your business will be susceptible to collapse at the first sign of stress.
This passion and commitment needs to emanate from you and the people that represent your business. Your entire organisation has to completely believe in the concept of the customer being at the heart of everything you do. From the time you step into work, everybody has to do what you need to do to deliver customer satisfaction.
As the main leader in the business, what can you do to build passion and commitment?
Always lead from the front and demonstrate this in all that you do so that you are setting an example for everyone in your organization to follow. Talk about the need to provide outstanding customer service all the time. This will let your staff know just how passionate you feel about it. Celebrate each and every incident of putting the customer first.
Build Your Processes Around Your Customer Not the Business
To make things easier for you as well as your customers, you need to have clearly laid out processes that clearly sets out how to get things done. All successful businesses do this.
It doesn’t matter whether you have a Quick Reference Guide or a detailed, formal manual that clearly lays out your processes in black and white. This will provide clarity for both the customer and your staff. It is also important to keep revisiting your processes to find out if there is anything you can do to make things even easier for the customer to do business with you.
Build a Relationship with Your Customer
Building genuine relationships and engaging with your customers is the foundation of a customer-focused business model. Do this from the heart and you will have a customer for life.
Here are a few ideas on how to build an enduring and profitable relationship with your customers:
Keep in touch with your customers.
Don’t wait until you’re having a sale before contacting your customers. For example, if you’re a financial advisor and you come across a free app or website that you know would be useful to your clients, call and tell them about it.
Use your newsletter.
A newsletter is directly tied to the success of your business. Issue quarterly newsletters informing your customers about what’s happening around your business. Tell them about any upcoming sales, upcoming projects, any plans you have for the future that will affect the customer, etc.
Do things that are memorable for your customers.
For example, send out thank you notes, happy holiday cards, birthday or anniversary cards, etc. To be safe, it would be best to avoid sending out religious cards unless you are sure about a particular customer’s views on any particular religion.
Nurture a Culture of ‘Wanting To Know’
Make a concerted effort to find out what your customers want from you. This will help you to build a reputation for being customer focused. You can do this through informal phone calls or a quick survey via email or mail. Find out what they like about your business, what they don’t like and what they would like to see improved.
Having collected all of the pertinent information and suggestion, you need to set up a concrete plan of action to follow up. Once you have acted upon those suggestions that were workable, contact your customers to let them know what you’ve done in response to their comments. This will clearly demonstrate that you truly value their input and care about what they think.
Being a customer-focused business can ultimately be very rewarding and help you create a great business. Keep in mind – if you let the customer be your focus, you will become their focus.