Big box stores, 24-hour phone trees, and the ease and range of the internet have distanced the producer and consumer in modern business. Still, customers desire personal contact and friendly relationships just as much as the owners and employees of businesses do. We are all social by nature and want more than a product and service, we want personal contact and friendly relationships. Good customer service is more than just increased profits via referrals and repeat business. Your customers are your supporters. It simply feels good to connect and provide the best for these people.
It costs businesses up to six times more to attract a new customer then it does to keep the current customers. Since 80% of our business comes from 20% of our customers – we must do something to keep 20% loyal.
Here are a couple of suggestions to take into consideration when you are looking to better your customer service:
1. Gain customer loyalty. Successful businesses look long term – they build relationships and do whatever it takes to keep their customers satisfied. Don’t underestimate the cost of an unsatisfied customer – word of mouth has a ripple effect and can make or break a business.
2. Don’t forget your customers. More importantly, don’t let them forget you! Keep in touch with them and think of it as opening a relationship instead of closing a sale. Take the opportunity to send thank you notes or call to be sure the product or service met the customer’s needs. Keeping track of your customers can be an indispensable sales tool. Consider keeping a contact list on a computer database or on paper. If a customer refers someone to your business, be sure to thank him or her. Holiday or birthday cards are an excellent opportunity to send promotional incentives to encourage repeat business.
3. Always exceed expectations – or at the very least, provide what you promise. Commit to delivering exceptional services and creating a positive experience for your customer. Under promise, over deliver. Exceeding expectations is one of the most powerful ways to earn customer loyalty.
4. Make customers feel important. Treat your customers with courtesy and respect, listen to their needs and meet them where possible. No one wants to feel taken advantage of and it certainly doesn’t promote loyalty. Reassure their decision to do business with you. If you resolved a complaint or problem, let them know. They will feel valued and chances are will return to do more business.
5. Never argue with your customer – even if you know they are in the wrong. Rather then focusing on the problem, focus on how to resolve it. People don’t like to complain so chances are they are very unsatisfied. This results in negative lip service – and on average this news will spread to 16 others, and they too will pass on the word. Satisfied customers on average tell 8 friends and family about their experience with you. You will never ‘win’ in an argument with your customer.
6. Listen to your customers and act accordingly. Not only will you learn about your customers but also you will learn about your business. Try to anticipate their needs and provide solutions before they look somewhere else.
Providing quality customer service is what separates your business from the competition. It brings people back with friends and family in tow. Best of all, you feel good making your customers happy while watching the profitable results.
Stephanie Escott owns Advantage Customer Care and can be reached via email: firstname.lastname@example.org