Building Customer Relationships
It is commonly accepted that Customer Service in the UK does not always live up to what we would expect, but how does this apply to our own businesses?
Have you ever tried calling your own switchboard and tackling the infuriating maze of options required, just to speak to a human? Unless you make yourself act as your own customer, at least once every month, you will have no idea how you are coming across to your REAL customers.
All the good Management text books teach that a business must sell more goods and services to their existing customers or continually find new customers to sell to, but how do you find out what your customers want?
Large companies have the resources for Focus Groups, customer research, loyalty programs, advertising and Social Media departments, most of which SME’s cannot afford, so what do we do?
1. Talk to your customers and be friendly.
2. Make them feel special, remember their names, or as many as possible.
3. Do what you say, when you say it. We have all seen tradespeople who say “I will be back Tuesday” and then never show up.
4. If your business is a face to face business, NEVER be late for meetings, return telephone calls promptly, reply to e-mails promptly. Your customers may only work during business hours, so you have an extra sixteen hours a day to get ahead of the game and impress your customers.
5. Make yourself indispensable by being totally dependable. For a good customer, go the extra mile!
Of course every business has horror stories of customers cheating them or in other ways being unprofitable customers. Learn from where you may have been taken advantage of but do not treat ALL customers as potential confidence tricksters.
Why do some businesses thrive and others wither and die. Sadly, if your business is a sunset business you must keep an eye on trends and learn to be flexible, think of Blockbuster Videos, Yellow Pages, Buggy Whip Manufacturers, Nokia phones, Blackberry phones, Woolworths UK, British Leyland. All of these firms were caught out by either changing customer tastes, changing technology or shoddy goods and services. Ask yourself this, more cars are manufactured in the UK today than at any time in history and yet there are no UK owned companies left. Why is this? Poor management and poor customer service.
Be a winner and LOVE your customers!