Do you want more customers for your business? Do you desire to retain the customers that you already have? If your answer is “yes” to both these questions, then the most important matter for you to get right is customer service. Customer loyalty always follows customer service.
And not just any service, mind you, rather the kind of service that gets people talking about your business, referring others to you and has your steady customers returning for more. Indeed, exemplary customer service leads to exceptional customer loyalty, a formula successful businesses everywhere employ.
Here’s how to make the two work hand in hand for greater business satisfaction.
First, be a promise keeper. These days, people are not entirely surprised when others do not keep their word. Unfortunately, we operate in a business climate where customers, even loyal ones, are given short shrift and are let down time and again. However, your business does not have to operate that way. Instead, by providing the top-level products and meritorious services they deserve, your business will not just thrive, but prosper.
Second, endeavor to add value wherever you can. You can’t expect to deliver a good product and superior customer service and believe for a moment that your customers will stick around. What you must do is add value to what you provide. Moreover, you must find a way to do so without breaking the bank. You can do this and stay profitable by offering cost reductions on future purchases, providing free delivery on orders over a certain amount, bundle products and services to offer a discount, and provide the expected sales deals your long-term customers expect.
Third, empathy can go a long way. Sometimes it isn’t the price or the service that irritates customers, rather the lack of understanding on a business owner’s part when a special need or request is made known and ignored or turned down. To illustrate, if a particular customer asks for preferential invoice consideration, such as unique terms, it may make sense for your business to provide a special request. Besides, it wouldn’t be something that you would have to extend to all customers.
Fourth, stand behind what you make, sell or service. A guarantee should be just that — you standing behind everything that you do to ensure that your customers are always satisfied. This can mean taking back a product after your return period has ended, upgrading a service to please a customer or replacing an item that is broken or no longer works and at your cost.
Fifth, keep the lines of communication open. Sending email blasts out to your customers may work for some, but the personal touch can go a long way. Besides, who reads all their email messages? Endeavor to fortify your business relationships by making personal phone calls or visits to your customer’s place of business. When a customer comes to your office or retail shop, address them by their name. If a complaint is filed, strive to reply to each one personally. Ensure customer satisfaction by seeing this problem through until it has been resolved.
Sixth, keep your best employees around. Lots of businesses are looking for ways to reduce their overhead. The easiest place to look is at your payroll. Here, you may be tempted to allow your senior employees to leave, replacing them with younger, but less experienced personnel. Your senior employees may cost you more up front, but you stand to lose much down the line. Your customers may be attached to a particular employee and patronize your enterprise for that reason. Always base your employee count on individuals that provide exemplary service, regardless of their salary cost.
Seventh, quality is your recipe. Wendy’s, the fast food giant, still advances the following mantra: quality is our recipe. This chain probably will never catch McDonalds, but don’t think for a moment that this matters to its administrators. Like Wendy’s, your focus should always be on delivering a quality product. Further, if supplier problems arise, work with your best suppliers to ensure that they deliver only the best materials to you and at a price you can afford.
Hand in Hand
Clearly, customer service and customer loyalty go hand in hand. Do your part and your customers will generally respond in kind. Cut corners and you’ll rue the day when you put short-term gains above long-term profitability.
See Also — Client Satisfaction and Your Small Business