Archive for the 'Managing Customer Service' Category
One of the best ways to build your small business is to continually market to your present client base. It is cheaper to market to them and keep them, rather then, only focusing on trying to find new ones. Yet, with that said far too many businesses squander their marketing and advertising dollars only trying to attract new clients.
Studies show that it costs 6-7 times more to attract a new client than it does to keep the one you have. While it is important to constantly y be acquiring new clients, it is critical that a business spend the majority of it marketing dollars on its present client base. Jay Conrad Levinson, marketing guru, recommends that breaks down the marketing budget in this way.
10% to the universe
30% to a qualified prospect list
60% to present client base
So if you want to build your business the smart way, I suggest you focus the majority of your marketing dollars and time on your present client base.
A recent study on what customers really wanted, discovered some interesting findings. The results of that research have been used as a guidepost for the customer service industry. So what do people really want when it comes to service? Here are the four key points gleaned from that study.
1. People want prompt, friendly
2. They want us to fix their problem.
3. They wants us to be flexible with our policies and if necessary to
“jiggle the system”.
4. If we make a mistake, our customer wants us to fix it promptly and then do something a little bit extra.
Let’s take a look at how we can truly give our customers what they want by applying these four simple guidelines.
#1 People want prompt, friendly, service.
What this means is they want a live friendly person to give them attention, immediately. Whether it is on the phone or in person, they want to be served as soon as possible, if not sooner. If you or your employees do any of the following, you are violating this principle.
• put your customers on hold (when they call in on the telephone) for an more than 60 seconds.
• ignore your customer who is personally waiting in line for service by answering the telephone and providing service to that phone caller while ignoring the customer in your presence.
• Tell the customer they will just have to wait for the product or the service your company provides because you are too busy or unable (for whatever reason) to give the customer what they want now.
Just recently I went to a nationally known paint store to buy a special paint mix. The salesperson (obviously not the owner), in an aloof manner, told me the store was closing at 12 noon that day, and because of the vast amount of paperwork he had to do before they closed, would not have the time to computer match the paint. He coldly said “if you want the paint, you’ll have to come back next Monday.” Right! Fat chance that I was going to rearrange my painting schedule because of his inability to manage his administrative duties.
Here was a good example of an employee who had not been instructed on the value of giving people what they want: “prompt friendly service.”
#2 They want us to fix their problem.
Our customers and clients want help.
They want us to solve or fix their problem. Whether it is having the right item in stock or getting their cable service repaired or any other of the millions of problems businesses are capable of handling, they want us to quickly and simply fix their problem.
If we can do this, they will gladly pay us to do it and pay us well.
#3 They want us to be flexible with our policies; they want us to jiggle the system.
No one likes to be told “I’m sorry, that’s not our policy”, or “We can’t do that”, or any other inferior, short sighted response that leaves the customer with an answer that does not fit their expectations. An answer that does not give them what they need and want, is a great way to drive your customers away; so far away that they never come back.
Too often policies are very much one sided. They are designed to protect the company or business and not to fairly represent the customer. When customers get the feeling that your policies are not fair, they react by not wanting to do business with you, ever!
So, if we can be flexible in our interpretation of our rules and policies, and go out of our way to please the customer, we will create a desire on their behalf to want to come back and to tell their friends about what a fine store or business we have. Yes, if we can jiggle the system in the customer’s favor, it can prove to be a very good investment.
#4 If we make a mistake, fix it promptly and then do something a “little bit extra”.
Tom Peters, the famous speaker on customer service excellence, revealed that simply taking care of the customer after we make a mistake is a major key to customer retention.
A recent retail survey showed that on average, something out of one out of every four purchases goes wrong. Either the product does not work or malfunctions, is the wrong size, or something just isn’t right.
OK, so now what? Easy. First, genuinely apologize. Then exchange the product or service. If that is not possible, give them a credit or a refund. Whatever we do to remedy the situation, do it promptly and courteously.
Now, if we do something extra for the customer, we give ourselves an opportunity to exceed their expectations. By doing this, we position our business to be the place they come back to the next time they have a need for what we have.
To do something extra does not mean we give away the store. It could be something as simple as making a follow up phone call to see if everything worked out. Or it could be giving them a coupon for 10% off their next purchase. If possible, it could also be just not charging them for the purchase of whatever the item happened to be.
Doing something a little extra is a good example of pro-active marketing to our loyal customers. It can go a long way in spreading the word of your company’s ability to exceed your potential customer’s expectations.
Tom Borg is President of Tom Borg Consulting, Development & Training. He works with small business owners and helps them run a more profitable business by “shifting their business paradigms”. You can reach him at 734-404-5909 or e-mail him at: email@example.com or visit our website at: www.tomborgconsulting.com
A barber shop I go to for my haircuts had an independent barber working there who just didn’t understand how her behavior affected her success. When she was not cutting someone’s hair she would walk outside and smoke cigarettes. After that she would come inside and sit in the customer waiting area and complain about the absentee owner of the shop. She would criticize how he never did anything to promote the business, or put any money into updating the appearance of the shop.
Whether you own a company or work in a customer service job, your customer service skills are critical to your success. It is far too easy to take the people you are serving for granted when things are not going your way, or you are having a stressful day. Customers have their own set of problems and need you to give them the best service possible no matter how you feel.
According to Jay Conrad Levinson, marketing expert, “you must act on the knowledge that what customers value the most are attention, dependability, promptness, and competence.”
You demonstrate that you are paying attention to your customers by asking them questions. Dale Carnegie said that one of the best ways to “win customers and influence people” is to become genuinely interested in them. Questions will give you the opportunity to learn more about your customers, get to know them more personally, and give them the attention they want.
People like to do business with people they know and like. By paying attention to your customers, you will develop the kind of relationship that allows them to feel that you really do care.
Being dependable is another way of saying your customers do not like the wrong kind of surprises. They want to get what they expect, in the way they expect to get it. Do this consistently and you will satisfy this need.
Being prompt is essential to fulfilling most customers’ needs. No one likes to wait for service or for a call back or for an answer to their questions. They want it now and doing anything else can be perceived as a sign that you don’t value their time.
Competence can be described as your ability to get the job done right the first time. Know the answers to your customers questions. If you don’t know, find out promptly and accurately.
Far too often business owners will hire employees and not train them adequately. What ends up happening is the person is not capable of doing what is necessary to provide the kind of service that makes the customer happy. Poorly trained employees usually results in unhappy customers and high turnover of employees.
So, to keep your customers happy and your business growing, remember to provide attention, dependability, promptness and competence to everyone of them. When you do, both you, your employees, and your customers will live happily ever after.
Tom Borg is president of Tom Consulting, LLC., located in Canton, MI. He works with small and mid-size businesses. He shows them how to find, attract, sell to and keep the right kind of clients and customers and maintain a profitable business . Contact him at: 734-404-5909 or email him at: tomborg@TomborgConsulting.com or visit our website at: www.tomborgconsulting.com
A while back, I was in one of our local retail stores here in Canton, Michigan. I was looking for an item and wasn’t having any luck finding it. There were no clerks in sight, and I started to get a little frustrated. Finally, I saw a clerk heading towards the back of the store and I asked him for some assistance. His reply was, “I can’t help you. I’m going on my break.” What a golden opportunity for this young man to do what he was getting paid to do; provide a little service and help customers buy something. Unfortunately, he did not see the connection between what was expected in order for him to receive a pay check.
When I give this example in the programs I do for small and midsize businesses, somebody in the audience always asks, “Whose responsibility is it for making sure that this type of response is not given to customers?” My answer is always the same: The owner and management.
The concept that everyone who is employed in the company is in service, should be in the orientation manual, on the bulletin board, on their pay stub, and the focus of every meeting.
We must remember that the sole purpose of a business is to profitably attract and retain customers and clients. Any action by the owner, managers or employees, that does not support this ultimate purpose, takes away from it. If a company plans to profitably stay in business, it must keep the most important part to that formula for success; the customer or client.
The problem for many companies and organizations is that they do things right in the beginning, but fail to continue this when they get “too” busy. Their customers and clients are taken for granted.
The message that must be constantly reinforced is that everyone is in service. It is up to leaders of the organization to constantly reward the actions of employees when they put the customer first. When they do, they will be protecting the most important investment; the people they are supposed to be serving.
Tom Borg is president of Tom Borg Consulting, LLC. He is a business consultant, speaker, coach and author. He helps companies and organization become more profitable by increasing their value and lowering their costs through the professional development of their managers and employees You can reach him at www.TomBorgConsulting.com or by phone at 734-404-5909