Do you go above and beyond for your customers? Do you listen to your customers? What should customers expect from you as a supplier? Have you even considered these questions as part of your overall sales strategy?!
It is well established that it is easier to retain existing customers than it is to find a steady stream of new opportunities to replace any losses but are companies really doing enough to wow their customers and make it difficult for them to look elsewhere?
Far too often, companies become so focused on generating new opportunities that they fail to look after their existing customers appropriately. You can have a fantastic product, however if you fail to consider how it fits the needs of your target market, or if you provide poor after sales support, then you will lose business. Not only will you lose business from existing customers but the reputation of the company can be negatively affected which will have a detrimental impact on future opportunities as people may talk about their negative experiences.
Social media is becoming an outlet for frustrated customers to voice their opinions whether your company is active online or not! Instead of contacting you directly your customers may choose to post their comments online which does not reflect well on you.
Evidence demonstrates that great customer service can lead to long term success with companies such as Zappos and Southwest airlines establishing businesses built on exceptional customer support. As we move towards 2020, the expectations of customers will only increase as they continue to demand more value and become more empowered to influence change. Coupled with the increasing complexity of every stage of the sales cycle, companies will have to adapt to remain successful which means adopting an approach to put your customer first and respond quickly to the issues they experience.
Ultimately, improving customer service will have a beneficial impact on your bottom line as it will help you to build loyalty and trust which will help with customer retention and the generation of positive testimonials.
Think about the longer term when considering your approach to customer service and think about the added value you can offer to make you stand out from the competition. In an ever crowded market, with increasing competition, what can you do to stand out from the crowd and be better? Why should your customers choose you over your competitors?
Empower your company representatives to be in a position to resolve customer issues quickly and efficiently to ensure a quick resolution. Evidence suggests that speed is one of the biggest factors in providing good customer service.
Pret A Manger is a great example of a company empowering their staff to offer exceptional customer service. Instead of offering a loyalty scheme, like many of their competitors, which they felt were mechanistic and more beneficial to the company for studying and influencing buying behaviour they provide a fund for each store to spend on rewarding their customers. They don’t tell their staff who to spend it on but leave them the choice, whether it’s for a new customer or someone having a bad day. This is a shining example of how they set themselves apart from the competition!
Whilst I’m not suggesting every company should start going out and offering free services it is clear that putting the customer first, empathising with them, and placing them at the heart of your decision making should be a fundamental approach that your business is built around. This will only become ever more important when we reflect on the research which highlights that customer experience will have overtaken both price and product as the key company differentiator by 2020!