You can run an expensive advertising campaign trying to convince the world that you put the customer first, and that quality is (as one famous ad campaign put it) “Job 1,” but if you don’t deliver genuine customer satisfaction and genuine quality, you’re just wasting your money.
And why is that?
Because all of the clever sales techniques in the world are no substitute for the bottom line: customers expect good products and good service in return for what they pay.
It wasn’t too long ago that a customer’s choices were pretty limited, and the only competitors that you really had to worry about were the ones with nearby outlets, along with a few mail-order suppliers with inconvenient ordering systems and long turnaround times. And fewer customer choices meant greater customer loyalty and retention: It was often better to maintain a good relationship with a not-so-great supplier than it was to take a chance on the limited choice of competitors.
But those days are long gone. There’s a whole world at your customers’ fingertips; on the Internet, all of your competitors are “just down the street.” And you can’t take customer loyalty for granted. They don’t need you. They just need a good supplier, and they have plenty to choose from. But you need them.
And that means that good customer relations management is as important a part of your business as inventory, as staffing, as advertising. If you aren’t keeping track of how your customers feel, by means of comment forms, customer satisfaction surveys, and other types of feedback, and if you aren’t taking the initiative to respond to customer concerns, you might as well be leaving the back door to your business open and the burglar alarm off when you go home at night – because you’ll be losing customers, just as sure as you’d be losing inventory in a wide-open and unsecured building.
And the bottom line for customer relations is engagement: an ongoing conversation with your customers about quality, about service, about what you can do for them.
- Actively get feedback from your customers – ASK them by means of telephone surveys, online surveys, and comment cards.
- Understand what they’re saying – LISTEN, and read their individual comments.
- Respond to their concerns – RETAIN customers by reaching out to them when there are problems, and by resolving those problems.
- Get everyone involved – bring all of your managers and employees into the customer-satisfaction process, so that you, your staff, and your customers are fully engaged.
- Analyze customer feedback – use statistical analysis and keyword mining to spot trends, and to anticipate problems before they happen.
If you would like to know more about how the ASK LISTEN RETAIN System or how it can help create customer retention and loyalty, please contact us.