Growing Your Business One Customer At A Time
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The People aspect of business is really what it is all about. Rule #1: Think
of customers as individuals. Once we think that way, we realize our business is
our customer, not our product or services. Putting all the focus on the
merchandise in our store, or the services our corporation offers, leaves out the
most important component: each individual customer.
Keeping those individual customers in mind, here are some easy, down-home
steps-to-remember when you want to keep ’em coming back!
1. Remember there is no way that the quality of customer service can exceed
the quality of the people who provide it. Think you can get by paying the lowest
wage, giving the fewest of benefits, doing the least training for your
employees? It will show. Companies don’t help customers….people do.
2. Realize that your people will treat your customer the way they are
treated. Employees take their cue from management. Do you greet your employees
enthusiastically each day; are you polite in your dealings with them; do you try
to accommodate their requests; do you listen to them when they speak? Consistent
rude service is a reflection not as much on the employee as on management.
3. Do you know who your customers are? If a regular customer came in to your
facility, would you recognize them? Could you call them by name? All of us like
to feel important; calling someone by name is a simple way to do it and lets
them know you value them as customers. Recently I signed on with a new fitness
center. I had been a member of another one for the past ten years, renewing my
membership every 6 months when the notice arrived. I had been thinking about
changing, joining the one nearer my home and with more state-of-the-art
equipment. So when the renewal notice came, I didn’t renew. That was 8 months
ago. Was I contacted by the fitness center and asked why I did not renew? Did
anyone telephone me to find out why an established customer was no longer a
member or to tell me they missed me? No and No. My guess is they don’t even know
they lost a long-time customer, and apparently wouldn’t care.
4. Do your customers know who you are? If they see you, would they recognize
you? Could they call you by name? A visible management is an asset. At the
Piccadilly Cafeteria chain, the pictures of the manager and the assistant
manager are posted on a wall at the food selection line and it is a policy that
the manager’s office is placed only a few feet from the cashier’s stand at the
end of that line, in full view of the customers, and with the door kept open.
The manager is easily accessible and there is no doubt about “who’s in charge
here”. You have only to beckon to get a manager at your table to talk with you.
5. Go the extra mile. Include a thank-you note in a customer’s package; send
a birthday card; clip the article when you see their name or photo in print;
write a congratulatory note when they get a promotion. There are all sorts of
ways for you to keep in touch with your customers and bring them closer to you.
6. Are your customers greeted when they walk in the door or at least within
30-40 seconds upon entering? Is it possible they could come in, look around, and
go out without ever having their presence acknowledged? It is ironic it took a
discount merchant known for price, not service, to teach the retail world the
importance of greeting customers at the door. Could it be that’s because Sam
Walton knew this simple but important gesture is a matter of respect, of saying
“we appreciate your coming in,” having nothing to do with the price of
7. Give customers the benefit of the doubt. Proving to him why he’s wrong and
you’re right isn’t worth losing a customer over. You will never win an argument
with a customer, and you should never, ever put a customer in that position.
8. If a customer makes a request for something special, do everything you can
to say Yes. The fact that a customer cared enough to ask is all you need to know
in trying to accommodate her. It may be an exception from your policy, but (if
it isn’t illegal) try to do it. Remember you are just making one exception for
one customer, not making new policy. Mr. Marshall Field was right-on in his
famous statement: “Give the lady what she wants.”
9. Are your associates properly trained in how to handle a customer complaint
or an irate person? Give them guidelines for what to say and do in every
conceivable case. People on the frontline of a situation play the most critical
role in your customer’s experience. Make sure they know what to do and say to
make that customer’s experience a positive, pleasant one.
10. Want to know what your customers think of your company? Ask them! Compose
a “How’re We Doing?” card and leave it at the exit or register stand, or include
it in their next statement. Keep it short and simple. Ask things like: what it
is they like; what they don’t like; what they would change; what you could do
better; about their latest experience there, etc. To ensure the customer sends
it in: have it pre-stamped. And if the customer has given their name and
address, be sure to acknowledge receipt of the card.
Remember that the big money isn’t as much in winning customers as in keeping
customers. Each individual customer’s perception of your company will determine
how well you do this.
About the Author
Liz Tahir is an international marketing consultant, speaker, and seminar
leader, whose mission is to help companies be more effective and profitable.
Based in New Orleans, LA, USA, she can be contacted at (504)-569-1670;
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Article Published/Sorted/Amended on Scopulus 2007-03-22 16:37:21 in Business Articles