Success in business is rooted in consistent, high quality service. The reason for this is that you won’t achieve customer satisfaction if you’re short on quality service. Customer satisfaction is not just about your customers feeling pleased with your business – it makes a direct impact on your bottom line.
Your marketing and advertising may win you new customers, but it is consistently high quality service that will help you keep them. Existing customers provide most successful businesses with 60 to 70 percent of their revenue. The longer your customers stay with you, the more they buy from you, and yet they cost you a lot less. Winning new customers may cost you five times more than looking after your existing ones.
That’s why retaining customers is an essential business strategy, and it’s your service to them that matters the most. Studies show that it can take 12 consistently good customer experiences to make good on just one bad experience. But how many businesses get 12 chances after they have messed up? Most customers take their business elsewhere at the drop of a hat, without ever looking back.
An important requirement in providing quality service is to know your customer and actively build the relationship by getting to know them better and better. One way to do this is to develop and implement a customer loyalty programme. Providing specials and discounts can be an effective way to reward loyal customers and strengthen your relationship with them.
A loyalty programme also provides you with a good reason to keep in touch with your customers. Sending out regular newsletters and letting them know about special offers gives you proactive ‘touch points’ with them.
You can use your loyalty programme to help build your customer database. Frequent contact enables you to understand them better and record details such as their likes and dislikes, what is important to them, their value to your business and any other particulars. This is useful business intelligence that can enhance your customer service. For instance, a rich customer database means that any member of your team can access the kind of information that can turn a customer complaint into a win for your business because they can quickly access useful information about them.
Of course, you need to be sensitive and careful in collecting customer data. Your information-gathering should never be demanding and intrusive. You also need to be aware of, and compliant with any relevant privacy and information security regulations.
Another method of gaining the information you need to deliver consistently high quality service is to solicit regular customer feedback. Customer satisfaction surveys are very useful at gaining insight into areas where your business needs to improve and can help you to avoid unhappy customers defecting or bad-mouthing your business.
Surveys should be quick and easy for customers to do. They should be presented in a format that works best for them, whether that’s online, via email or by pen to put paper when they’re at your premises. You’re likely to get more forthright information if you keep the surveys anonymous. You can put a positive spin on the results of a customer satisfaction survey by announcing in your regular newsletter the actions or activities the business is undertaking to improve any areas that were frequently highlighted as less than satisfactory by customers.
What is important is that customer satisfaction needs to be an organisation-wide concern, not just yours. You need to have clear customer service guidelines that all customer-facing staff know and understand. They need to be motivated and competent to adhere to these standards. It can be helpful to involve your team in sharing their insights and experiences of your customers. They will often have useful ideas on service improvements and other innovations that could enhance customer satisfaction. All staff should also be able to contribute to your customer database as they are likely to gain information at many of their touch-points with customers. With consistent, high quality service top of mind, you and your team can build a customer-centric business on the road to success.