Too often I see commercials for my local telephone provider offering discounts if I sign up to use them over their competitor. What’s frustrating is when I sign up for that great deal, eventually it expires, and my rates start going up. Why do we not offer promos to existing clients, not because we are afraid of losing them, but to show them that we value their business? 

Great customer service has always been important. There is no doubt that you are more likely to visit a store with warm and friendly staff, and sometimes you may even be willing to pay a little bit more for that experience. 

But what happens when your business becomes a given? You are a regular, and you start to feel that the staff is not as outgoing as they once were because they know you’re coming back. 

How does a company ensure that every interaction, whether with a prospect or a long term client, remains as fresh as the first time? What can you do to make a difference? 

Take care of the regular customers you have, offer them promos for staying on-board, perhaps an anniversary discount, or even just to say thank you for their continued patronage. 

Never forget that your clients have options, and although it may be easier to stay with you, they may be willing to deal with the inconvenience of transition to feel appreciated.

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I recently visited a highway-side diner with my family. It’s as close to our home as the local chain hamburger restaurant. I always pay more at the diner for my burger and fries, but why do I choose greater cost over a more economic option that comes with toys for the kids.

 

Besides a really great burger, what I’ve come to expect from this diner is customer service that is not only consistent, but consistently excellent. Whenever I go in there I feel welcomed, that they value my business and I’m willing to pay more for it. What surprises me is that besides the welcoming environment and the pleasant manner of the staff is that they always try to down-sell me. Suggesting alternatives to what I order to save me money, and leave us with less left-over food at the end of the meal.

 

The experience I have with this diner can easily be translated into any business model. Fantastic customer service turns into:

 

  • Repeat visits – We all know that new clients are great, but it’s much easier to keep the clients you have, versus going out there and getting new clients.
  • Word of Mouth Advertising – The value speaks for itself. Really, what better form of advertising is there?  When they down-sell me, I am quick to pass that information along to my friends, so at that moment, it may have cost them one order of fries, but they gained an order from a family of four.

 

Remember your client, try to go the extra length to save them money, go above their expectations, and leave them with the feeling that their business is valued.

 

When I think about customer service, I am reminded of this quote by Maya Angelou:

 

“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did,

but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

While reviewing my personal credit card a few weeks ago, it came to my attention that there was a recurring charge that I didn’t recognize. I immediately began researching the charge and after a quick Google search determined the company in question. I was immediately alarmed because this company had been charging me for months and was never supposed to be a paid service. In their commercials and on their site, it boasted of “free” and never mentioned that it was a “limited time offer”.

It seems that they have since made it more clear on their site. This of course is after class action lawsuits and complaints by many to the Better Business Bureau. How unfortunate that they don’t seem to understand the importance of customer care.  After speaking with 3 people within the company, escalating to the manager and being put on hold multiple times, I was not adequately compensated for my charges.

Customer care begins with the first contact a customer has with your company. It is their very first impression that they have of you and representative of the company as a whole.  In order for this to be positive, be sure you are representing a company or product that you truly believe in.

Once this initial contact is made, it is important to develop a rapport with the customer based on respect. This will allow them to feel appreciated.

Work with them to develop an easy and seamless way to complete their transaction. This will encourage them to return to work with you again.

And lastly, please be sure to thank the customer. With so many opportunities for them to select from, it is imperative that you show your appreciation for their business. On a recent trip, Southwest Airlines did this very well when the flight attendant said “You have many airlines to chose from but we are very happy you gave your money to us”. Nothing like a little humor with your thanks.

Excellent standards of service will lead to happy and repeat customers

Customer service should be as routine as paying the bills or ordering office supplies. It doesn’t have to be elaborate but its very important to incorporate a personal touch and maintain it.  One advantage of being a small business is that it’s easier to respond personally and within a reasonable amount of time.

Proactive resonses versus reactive

Reacting to questions and concerns is extremely important in any client relationship, however being proactive is equally as important.

  • Keep your clients apprised of their account and project status
  • If you are going beyond a deadline, be sure to let them know in advance

How software can help with customer relationship management

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) is very important to any business regardless of the size.  From solo entrepreneurs to large corporations,  This technology can help improve customer service and customer contact.

CRM activities are generally performed by sales, marketing and service professionals.  Customer Relationship Management can be the one thing that keeps your customers loyal. Implementing CRM in today’s market is non-negotiable.