It's a mistake to think that because a customer has expressed dissatisfaction with your product or service, they will not come back to you.
They won't return if you handle the situation badly. However, some of your most vociferous complainers could become your most loyal customers, because you handled the situation well and treated them with respect.
This means recognizing some essential traits:
• Customers want to be respected
• They want attention
• They want to be appreciated and recognized
• Most of all - they want to be understood!
Why do businesses lose customers?
My experience this week is, sadly, a typical example, and regular visitors here will know that I am on a campaign - crusade even - to improve standards of customer service, and I'll describe those experiences on Saturday.
A survey with which you may be familiar, asked customers why they changed supplier/vendor. Here are the results:
• Developed a good relationship with another supplier (5%)
• Less expensive products elsewhere (9%)
• Unhappy with service/product (18%)
• Because of the poor attitude of the supplier (68%)
Your Customers Are the Lifeblood of Your Business
It is never easy to win new business, which is why we should nurture existing customers and try to minimize problems and inconvenience.
It's a good idea to:
• Make regularly visits or calls - spotting trouble early on can help prevent it
• Reply to calls/queries as soon as possible
• Talk to your customers - find out about them
• Keep them well informed
• Conduct regular reviews of your performance - see your service through their eyes
Ensure that the lifeblood keeps flowing through the veins of your business.
Suppose they are difficult.
Few people are truly difficult. In any case, it is important to make a distinction between difficult people and difficult behavior, which is often a result of non-co-operation on your part.
• Focus on the problem (challenge?), not on them
• Show interest - bring out their likeable side
• Put yourself in their shoes - remember empathy?
• Be personal - use their name if that's what they would like
• Appeal to their better nature - 'as a parent of small children you...'
• Cultivate their goodwill
Saying Thank You
Let your customers know you appreciate them. Find little ways to thank them for their custom, especially when they are not expecting it. This is a great way to attract compliments - especially after sorting out a difficult problem.
• A simple, but sincere thank you card - personalized
• Gift vouchers
• Cards at Christmas or other appropriate festivals - Diwali, Hanukah, Eid
• VIP days for special events, launches, dinners
• Social gatherings for key clients
Loyalty cards are very popular now with many organizations. Discounts, bonus points, free samples, all help to make your business stand out.
Compliments & Comments
Why do we find it difficult to accept compliments?
Is it because:
• We don't have enough faith or pride in our product?
• We think it's probably a back-handed complaint?
• We don't trust people?
• We don't know how to react? (How about 'thank you'?!)
Compliments tell us what we are doing right and give a boost to our morale. If we allow it, they bring us pleasure.
Some customers just mutter a comment, because that's how they are. They don't really want you to take them up on it (it's a good idea though to take note of what they say and, if appropriate, ask 'Is everything okay?').
Some key lessons on keeping abreast of customer needs and minimizing complaints:
• Use as much of the available technology as possible - make it work for the customer
• Focus on customers as individuals
• Listen and act on what they say
• Increase the value of each customer - especially in the long term
Finally, finally, welcome complaints - always, always, welcome complaints