Catching customers, holding customers is now more difficult than ever. Anything and everything can be copied, or duplicated. Beyond the issue of more competition, it makes it more difficult to develop ‘ownership’ of a customer. The challenge is to give customers extra value.
So how do we do give them extra value? We must understand customers are just like us. We are consumers, too. We want to feel special, we want to feel significant, we want to feel we are valued, we want to feel we have made a good deal. If we can make our customers feel these things, they will want to stay with us and they are more likely to recommend us. Certainly, it takes extra effort – and maybe extra cost – but it is cheaper to retain a good customer than to go out and ‘buy’ a new customer.
A rule of thumb says a happy customer tells 10 others about what you offer. An unhappy customer, more ominously, tells 100 others about their bad experience. Studies also puts a value on customer loyalty. One study of service firms found extending a customer relationship from five years to six years resulted in a 25 per cent to 85 per cent increase in profitability. The reason is a long term customer who becomes knowledgeable about your company and its products is less expensive to serve. As a result, costs are reduced and word-of-mouth comes into play which generates new business and increases profitability.
In every business there are different types of customers. There is the easy customer, who is always happy with you. Then there is the ‘difficult’ customer, who is always unhappy, no matter what you do. You should not think of ‘difficult’ customers as a problem. If you pursue their expectations, they will take your business to another level, the level you achieve through being challenged to do more and give more and raise the bar. In short, difficult customers present you with the opportunity to make your business better at doing what it does.
Succeeding in business, from my experience, from my observations and from the lessons I have learned, requires you act with common sense after asking the right questions and putting your finger on simple truths. Don’t be distracted from core questions like:
What do our customers really want from our product?
The correct answer is simple: they want it to work for them; they want good value.
What do I have to do to give them what they want?
Again, the correct answer is simple: Our product must be readily available, we must make it convenient for them to buy it, it must have functional values that are superior to those of our competitors.
What do I have to do to make them want to come back?
The correct answer is simple: We must make their contact with my business an enjoyable experience so a memorable relationship is created.
The value of employee satisfaction should not be under-rated. Employees who enjoy their work and believe they are making a contribution, stay longer, become more knowledgeable and productive which creates long term value. When you have that dynamic going on in your business you are on track to create customer satisfaction. Wouldn’t you, as a customer, like to be served by someone who is motivated and takes the time to get to know your specific needs and circumstances, someone who makes you feel special? Of course you would. And so do I.
In conclusion, we can count on retaining our customers only if we are passionate, only if we always have a caring, can-do attitude, only if we are totally sincere and only if we deal with our customers with empathy. It comes down to the old saying, ‘nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.’