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Where Would We Be Without Customers
Customers are the most important component of your marketing program. You can have the best product or service and the most knowledgeable and impressive staff, but without a happy customer, you may have no one to make the sale to. No sales lead to fewer staff or at best, a less-qualified staff, leading to a downward spiral. This situation may sound like a doom and gloom prediction, but a solution is not far out of your reach.
In fact, there are many steps you can take to not only secure your relationship with existing customers but also attract and retain new ones. The old adage ‘‘Treat customers as you wish to be treated’’ has never been more relevant. Competition is fierce and small companies are stealing business from formidable competitors through solid, reliable customer service. The stigma of small companies being too small to handle customer needs is disappearing.
Large companies often hire people on contract (consultants, small suppliers, etc.) for many of the jobs that were salaried positions in the recent past. You have a better opportunity to compete with larger competitors and win new business than ever before. Great customer service can even the playing field and make all the difference in the world to your business.
Treat Customers As Well As You Like To Be Treated
Here are two very different experiences with customer service, a negative experience with a large company and a positive one with a small business.
A Negative Experience
A customer arrived at a bank about two minutes before it officially opened at 9:30 a.m. An older gentleman had been waiting for a few minutes and seemed somewhat agitated. Other people were waiting in their cars for the doors to open.
Time takes on new meaning when waiting and a few minutes can seem like hours; the bank had to keep the doors closed until 9:30 for security reasons. As 9:30 a.m. came and went, no one opened the doors.
An employee was spotted inside the bank and the growing crowd waved to bring him over. He thought this was amusing and waved back as he continued going about his business. The agitation among the customers increased. The waving employee finally let the customers in.
It seems he found the furious, waving exchange humorous and greeted them with a big smile as if it were a joke. The crowd did not laugh. As the customers approached the tellers, it became apparent that they would have to wait again. The customers were not happy.
This bank was a new, large branch that had amalgamated from several smaller ones. It was supposed to offer state-of-the-art service. This was not the first negative experience for any of these customers. As they waited for a teller, stories of prior bad experiences began to circulate among them, each story outdoing the previous one.
Occasional service problems can be tolerated. An ongoing disregard for your customers cannot. As the old expression goes, ‘‘The customer is always right.’’ Unfortunately, some businesses seem to ignore this advice and they drive customers away. The banks’ problems could be easily fixed with extended hours and more staff. Good service begets more business and more business pays for extended hours and increased staffing. The cycle continues and your business grows.
A Great Experience
A businessman set out to buy a new suit. A store had been recommended to him through word of mouth. He approached the front door and noticed a sign asking him to press the buzzer. Before he could count to three, a friendly salesman opened the door and welcomed him inside.
The first question the salesman asked was how had he heard about the store? After receiving the answer, the salesman dispensed with the formalities and asked the businessman how he could help him.
The customer described the occasion he needed a new suit for and the salesman took over. The next hour was probably the easiest and most enjoyable shopping experience the businessman ever had.
The salesman described the construction of various suits and explained the differences between manufacturers and styles. He made good recommendations and coordinated shirts and ties to make several outfits from one suit. He made the purchase very easy and an enjoyable experience for the customer.
It was obvious why the business had been built on word-of-mouth, and the businessman planned to pass its name on to other people. The salesman turned a new customer experience into a long-term relationship.
Successful businesses know how critical customer service is. In a highly competitive marketplace in which many companies offer similar products and services, a great way to distinguish yourself is by offering superb customer service. It is imperative to understand what your customer is really looking for.
Customers don’t think very differently than you do. When you are buying products or services for your business or home, you are a customer. Your thinking is probably like your customer’s. Next time you are purchasing something, keep the following points in mind and look at the purchase from a customer’s perspective. It’s not difficult to learn something from one industry and transfer the information to another. Try to relate what you learned to your own business.
“Confidence is key to successfully acquiring new business.” A2E
13 Tips for Outstanding Customer Service: