Friday, October 1, 2010

Why Do Customers Matter?

Perhaps this is stating the obvious, but we want a large base of loyal customers as they are  a lot more profitable than just “happy/satisfied” customers. They consistently do business with us and on top of that they give free advertising to others to do business with us.

Satisfied Customers Tell Three Friends, Angry Customers Tell 3,000: Running a Business in Today's Consumer-Driven WorldBesides that, we already know that is ten times easier to keep a customer happy than to gain a new one, so based on this, it sounds like a pretty good deal to just give customers the GREAT/MEMORABLE service they are expecting and keep their business coming “home”.

The question of course is - What is Memorable and What do customers want from us?

First we need to understand that customers these days are smarter, more demanding, less forgiving, harder to satisfy and most of all approached by competitors on a daily basis, therefore the extra mile we used to walk has now become “The Expected”.

Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless: How to Make Them Love You, Keep You Coming Back, and Tell Everyone They KnowIn order to gain Customer Loyalty we need to show them:
  • The value of our service. Let them know that they are dealing with  professionals that are willing to understand and help them. “We are here to help you”.
  • How assertive we are. We will provide the correct information exactly when they need it and in the way they need it. “We are here to inform you”.
  • The best attitude. Regardless of how you communicate with your customers be that email, voice or chat it is essential that your willingness to help is transmitted through the conversation.  “We are glad to help you”.
 Now like I said earlier - these three things are no longer going above and beyond but are rather the expectation, so if you do them the only thing you are guaranteed to have is satisfied customers.  To get to the next level you will need to demonstrate:
  • Reliability, as there is nothing better for a customer than to know what service to expect and always get it, over and over again, if you don’t believe me then take a look at how McD’s is doing regardless of the market.
  • Timing, because customers want it now, the faster the better. However, worse than late is wrong. If you ordered a pepperoni pizza, a potato salad and light coke delivered to your door three minutes after hanging up the phone would probably not improve your loyalty.
Now I don't think anyone would disagree that by providing these elements of service to your customer you are going to have a significantly happier customer out there.  However its really easy to say that you need to do it ... doing it is another question.  Here are some tips!
    What Customers Want: Using Outcome-Driven Innovation to Create Breakthrough Products and ServicesThe Customer Rules: The 14 Indispensible, Irrefutable, and Indisputable Qualities of the Greatest Service Companies in the WorldExceptional Service, Exceptional Profit: The Secrets of Building a Five-Star Customer Service Organization
  1. Every time you start working on an issue ask yourself the following questions in this order: How any issues is the customer bringing to my attention? Is it clear to me what the problem(s)  is(are)? What information do I need to solve the problem? What information do I have at this  moment? How can I get what I am missing? By doing this, you will improve your accuracy in  solving the customer’s issues, you will start to work smarter instead of harder as you will focus  your efforts and time on solving the problem.
  2. Let the customers know what you have understood, what information you are giving them and in which order. This will tell the customers that you are taking their concerns seriously and that you will address all their questions. Remember there is nothing worse than being ignored and  when you address two out of three questions you are basically telling the customer “your third  request is not important to me”.
  3. Get training on the things you find difficult to solve, the more you know, the easier your work will be, and the easier your work is, the faster you can provide the right answer to the customer.  It is like body building, the more you know the stronger you get. The difficult part of putting this advice in practice is to recognize what we don’t know and even harder to be humble and ask for help. In my experience every time I have asked someone to teach me, they have felt proud of passing their knowledge to anybody who approaches them with respect,  paradoxically this does not always work with teachers but has worked perfectly with  colleagues.
  4. I don’t have specific advice on improving your attitude, there is no method or technique to follow that guarantees an improvement in this area, however, I suggest you start doing some exercises, drink two more glasses of water every day, reduce caffeine, eat chocolate and most of all worry only about the things you can control, like your reaction to every day events.
Customers are human beings, as demanding and difficult to please as you and me. Think about the restaurants, pubs, stores, online sites, etc that keep you going back and spending your money there,  what have those places done to earn your loyalty and then think about what else can we do to keep  earning your customers loyalty.

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