Keeping your customers happy is the key to running a successful business
November 15, 2015
By Katie J. Thomas, CPA, CFP®
Disney, Ritz-Carlton, Amazon, any cable TV provider. When you think of these companies, what image comes to mind? More likely than not for these particular companies, it is the level of customer service they provide. These companies are known for their customer service, whether it is exceptional or appalling. They have earned their reputations over time as their customers spread the word about their experiences with these companies. And while it might not be on a global or even national scale, your customers are judging your company every day too.
Countless studies have been performed on customer service, but they all prove the same thing– keeping your customers happy is essential to being successful in business. Unhappy customers are more likely to tell others about their bad experiences than happy customers will tell others about their good experiences. It has also been proven that it costs five times as much to attract a new customer than it costs to keep a current customer. Every time you have contact with a customer, whether they are new or life-long, is a chance to impress them or to lose them. The keys to retaining your customers are to develop relationships with them and to always strive to exceed their expectations. Doing these two things will help you turn merely satisfied customers into loyal customers who are advocates (or referral sources!) of your company.
Developing relationships with your customers gives them a reason to keep coming back. When you have a good relationship with a customer, they look forward to doing business with you and will choose your company over another vendor. If you haven’t already, think about creating a program within your company to regularly contact your customers. Make the contact meaningful; customers appreciate a visit, a phone call or a personal note rather than a form letter that you mailed to your entire customer list. Calling them before they call you shows you care about them individually, and they aren’t just a number.
Striving to exceed your customers’ expectations is the other key to great customer service. Fulfilling their requests isn’t enough; you should try to anticipate their needs and go above and beyond when providing a solution for them. Of course the products and services need to be correct and completed on time, but it’s the little things that can make a big difference. Stay late so they can stop by to pick up an important order or, better yet, deliver it to them. Have their favorite beverage available when they come to your office or send them a gift certificate to their favorite restaurant to recognize an important achievement or event. Your imagination is the only limit to what you can do to put your company ahead of the competition.
In today’s economy, consumers want to get the best value for their dollar. More thought is put into each purchase, and customers will choose to do business at a place where they feel they are getting the level of attention and service they desire. Failing to provide an exceptional experience to your customers puts you in danger of losing not only your current customers but also damaging your reputation with future customers. Improving your customer service is one of the most important things you can do to ensure that your company retains its most valuable asset – its customers.
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This article was previously published in the Tri-State Business Times.