Meet Your Customers
By Craig Harrison
much do you know about your customers? Do you know what makes them
happy? Mad? Restless? Let's face it…you should! Businesses often
operate in ignorance of what their customers like or dislike, ignore
and abhor. To ensure retention, pay attention!
The Basics: What Customers Love
When you know them,
remember them by name and remember their preferences.
To be treated with
To feel special
To know you're
accountable when problems arise
The ability to reach a
live voice or person when problems arise
To receive lagniappe
— a little something extra, for their money's worth
The Basics: What Customers Hate
The runaround — and
having to repeat one's predicament repeatedly
Labyrinthine voice mail
Being put on hold
Being left on hold
Poor routing of their
phone call to the incorrect person
Repeatedly hearing how
important their patronage is while on hold indefinitely
Canned e-mail responses
that are unresponsive or miss the particulars of the problem
Sales reps with surly
or superior attitudes who are condescending
Lack of empathy
Taking customers for
Being nickel and dimed!
Adhering to the
letter of the law as opposed to the spirit of the law
How We Can Win Points With
Anticipate client needs
even before they do
Proactively head off
problems before they occur
Advocate for your
customers with management
Provide full service —
offering one-stop shopping for myriad client needs
Make doing business
with you fun and easy
charge-backs, returns and problems problematic to address
Grow with your
Treat them like royalty
and employ a touch of class in your interactions
Your Next Steps
Audit your sales and
customer service process; look for ways to streamline both for
your customers' convenience.
Make sure your sales
reps know your product lines inside and out.
Poll your customers to
uncover new ways to better serve them.
Create a marketing plan
for keeping in front of your customers: e-zines, ads, invites,
demos, sales and courtesy calls, focus groups and other
Review your returns;
look for patterns and trends. Fix systemic flaws in your
Seek to reward devoted,
long-term customers for their loyalty.
To the extent possible,
meet and better acquaint yourself with your customers so they're
more than a customer number or account name.
San Francisco Bay Area-based Professional speaker Craig Harrison's Expressions of
Excellence!™ provides sales and service solutions through speaking.
the author for permission to republish or reuse this article.]