June 8th, 2012
“The customer is always right” is a well-known mantra, because without customers you have no business, it is their needs that feed a business’s sales.
Getting business from your existing customers is less costly and unpredictable than attracting new ones, so retaining customers is vital for survival.
Customer’s reasons for leaving:
- 5% of Customers leave us because they die
- 5% of Customers leave us because they move-on, i.e. their business closes, they merge, etc
- 9% of Customers leave for competitive reasons
- 13% of Customers leave due to unresolved conflict
- 68% of Customers leave because they feel we don’t care; they feel that we are indifferent to them and so they move on to someone who does care about them and is keen to have their business
So how can we ensure that we keep our Customers for Life?
Our primary objective must be to ensure that the Customer Experience is outstanding – and this means, whether or not, the particular product or service meets or exceeds expectations. If marketing is the “promise” and operations is “the delivery of the promise”, then the customer experience is where marketing meets operations!
Customers have 5 simple requirements:
- Don’t waste our time
- Remember who we are
- Make it easy for us to order and get service
- Make sure your service delights us
- Customise your products and services
Above all customers want consistency of quality, approach, style and manner and this can be easily achieved by introducing a Customer Service Policy. It is of no use to simply have a Customer Service Policy – it needs to become a central part of your business – with its importance conveyed to everyone involved.
The larger your team and the more spread out you are within the office or geographical location, the harder it can be to ensure consistency but this is no excuse not to implement one.
Customer-centric businesses flourish and thrive
A Customer Service Policy should include:
2-way communication with your Customers
Ask your customers to critique your service and other elements of your business.
Listening to what your customer’s don’t like and what they would prefer changed allows you to make appropriate changes and turn a dissatisfied customer into a delighted customer.
A Customer Complaints Procedure
The way you manage and handle complaints can turn an unhappy customer into a loyal one.
Be sure that everyone within your organisations knows and understands your expectations. Give explanations and solutions – don’t make excuses. Excuses undermine your credibility (and your customer doesn’t want to be burdened with your problems).
You need to set down clear guidelines on timeframes involved for dealing with any problems – quite often, the faster you respond, the better the result.
First impressions are lasting impressions and if you want them to be positive impressions you need to ensure that your values are being transmitted throughout your company, at every level (and of course, throughout your marketing material and website).
You need to ensure that everyone understands what is appropriate and what is not in terms of courtesy, sharing information and behaviour with customers.
Does everyone answer the phone in a consistently polite manner and do they know how to field calls professionally and appropriately?
Under-promise and Over-deliver
Always go the extra mile and exceed expectations as often as you can. Develop a promise and keep it – don’t ever disappoint – it’s simply not worth it.
The Customer Experience
As business owners, it is easy to forget that the customer experience is probably the only thing that matters in your business. Customers would rather be treated well than treated badly. Customers remember exceptional service and tell others – they can become your No.1 fans – so it is vital that every single step of their journey is remarkable.
When was the last time you looked at your business through your customer’s eyes?
It is important to spend a day walking in your customer’s shoes – so you can really see what is involved.
- Phone in with an enquiry – see how you are spoken to, how long did it take for the phone to be answered, how knowledgeable was the person on the end of the phone?
- Complete an enquiry form on the internet – how easy was it to complete? How long did it take to receive a response to your enquiry?
- Make an order online – was it easy? How long did delivery take? How was communication throughout the process?
- Make an order over the phone – was it easy?
- When the goods arrive – do they arrive in good condition? Are they on time?
Bev is CEO of The Academy Group which includes The Entrepreneurs’ Business Academy (EBA) & EBA for Coaches which are both joint ventures with James Caan. Her book “Do It! or Ditch It” has already been listed as a bestselling business title and she is ready to pass on her success to your organisation.
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