Sure, marketing your business is important, but don’t forget about the most important part of your business: your customers. In a world where there is less and less human interaction with your customers sometimes it can be hard to remember that your customers are your business.
People often ask me how I’ve been able to grow my business during a recession. There’s no secret or gimmick—it’s really quite simple: I do my best to keep my customers happy. Sometimes it’s okay to go back to the basics and remind yourself why you are in business to begin with. Just because technology is always evolving doesn’t mean you need to change the way you conduct business.
Unfortunately we’ve all dealt with difficult situations with our customers, whether you are a business owner or a sales representative, whether you are selling a product or a service.
If you thought to yourself “There’s no such thing as a difficult customer” then you probably already have the right mindset. The truth is that customers are just like you and me. If they are being difficult it’s most likely because either A) They’re having a bad day already or B) Something has frustrated them. Either way there’s a simple answer as to why they’re being difficult: They need your help.
Just remember: Each customer is different and has a unique case. The best way to “deal” with a difficult customer is to 1) Analyze their situation, 2) Ask productive questions – never be condescending even if the answer is obvious to you, and 3) Find a solution with your customer. Don’t hang up the phone or leave the meeting until they are completely satisfied.
We can look at this question from multiple perspectives. From an ethical perspective, you’re in business to provide products or services to your customers. Therefore it should be your first and top priority to make sure your customers are always happy, period.
From a cost perspective, it’s a well-known fact that it costs more to find new customers than it does to keep existing customers. If you don’t keep your customers happy then one of two things will happen: 1) another provider will come along offering the same goods or services. Whether or not they are more expensive customers will pay more for better service. 2) Your customer will grow tired of being pushed around or kept on the backburner and they’ll find someone else to do business with.
It may be a good idea to analyze what you are doing for customer service and appreciation. Do you keep your customers informed? Do you make it easy for them to get in touch with you? Do you check up on them or remember important dates or occasions? Do you hold events or sales for your existing customers to reward loyalty? These are just a few ideas to get you thinking about what’s most important in business: Your customers!
If you do have an upset customer then there are several ways you can resolve an issue before it gets out of hand. Discounts on the next purchase go a long way – or even a free gift. Sometimes just having a good personal conversation goes further than anything money can buy. Always remember: customers are people too.
In business we spend time and resources on marketing and promoting our business. Whether it’s new age advertising in the form of websites, online ads, or social media or traditional advertising through TV, radio, newspapers, or magazines, it costs time and money. Having a sales force going door to door, cold calling, or employing sales representatives all have price tags associated with them.
It’s important however to remember that referrals from your own customers carry more weight than any of the above.
Think about it, even with all of the advertising in the world if your friend refers you to a business you will most likely trust their opinion over anything you see on TV, hear on the radio, or read online.
Just as your customers can help your business grow through positive word of mouth they can also cripple your business through negative word of mouth. If you don’t provide good service or you don’t treat your customers well they can seriously damage your business’s reputation. Not only will you lose that customer but you will also lose the chance of doing business with anyone they may have spoken negatively about you to.
Even if you have a monopoly on your market now, poor customer service will lead to thriving competition. Sometimes it’s not about the money – it’s about getting the job done right and making sure your customers are happy, not just with the work you did for them or the product you sold them, but with their overall experience.
On the opposite side a great experience can keep a customer happy and they will surely spread the word about how great your service was, bringing you even more business than you could have ever imagined – with the only cost being your time and dedication to your customers. Isn’t that what it’s all about?