Wednesday, 10 October 2018

10 Tips for Keeping Customers Happy

Businesses rely on happy customers.  Happy customers buy more and more often, introduce new customers and are more forgiving of mistakes.

Makes sense to keep them happy, but some manage it better than others.  Both personal experience, experience of observing others and anecdotal evidence suggest, however, that organisations that follow these 10 tips generally do better.

1.     Make it easy for them to deal with you:
We’re all busy people and don't want to follow complex procedures for simple things. Especially when these procedures seem designed more to protect the business from the customer.

2.     Be honest:
Some organisations seem to hide what customers might consider “important information”.  Whilst the motto “Let the buyer beware” applies to an extent, withholding information that “reasonable” people would consider vital to purchase decisions can land us in trouble.  Ask yourself, if you think someone’s withholding information, will you trust them?

3.     Be fair:
How would we feel if we were treated the way our organisation treats its customers?  If we don't like or agree with it, it’s probably time to change…

4.     Listen… 
… especially to complaints.  What customers say or tell us is free feedbackwhich could help improve service or spot future trends or problems. 

5.     Communicate:
When something happens, we may have to explain why and what we're doing about it.  Hiding from customers’ questions and hoping they’ll give up is a non-starter nowadays. The internet will ensure that any reluctance to respond to what are seen as genuine problems will be publicised and the organisation will have to work harder to repair the damage.  

6.     Keep promises:
When we say we’ll do something, we create an expectation.  If we can’t fulfil promises, we shouldn’t make them.  For example, if we say we’ll call back, we must call them back.

7.     Don’t take it personally:
As customers, we get unhappy when things go wrong and want to express our anger – usually at the salesperson in front of us.  On the “other side” (as the salesperson, Customer Service Officer, etc), we hate taking complaints.  We tend to forget that the customer’s anger is directed at the organisation, not at us (although it can seem like it at times!). 

8.     Fix it!
If the organisation has caused the problem, the best thing we can do is fix it – fast.  Then take steps to make sure it doesn’t happen again (but remember tips #1-4 above…).

9.     Don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know”:
Thanks to improving technology, increasing legislation and a generally more complex array of products with different features, it’s becoming more difficult to “keep up”.  It’s better to say that we’ll find the answer (as long as this doesn’t happen too often) and is in line with tip #2 above.  Customers appreciate people who don't “shine them on”.

10.  Smile:
At the right time, it makes such a difference!

The one common factor of all the tips above is that none of them involves spending any money.  They’re all linked to attitudewhich can be the hardest thing to instil in people who deal with customers.  The cost to an organisation is time spent in training and observing. To further drive the right attitude, we can rewardthe behaviours that display it.

Customers have more choice and (thanks to the internet) a louder voice now.  Don't give them a reason to choose your competitor over you and tell the world why they’re doing it.

I have spent more than half my life delivering change in different world markets from the most developed to “emerging” economies. With more than 20 years in international financial services around the world  running different operations and lending businesses, I started my own Consultancy to provide solutions for improving performance, productivity and risk management.  I work with individuals, small businesses, charities, quoted companies and academic institutions across the world. An international speaker, trainer, author and fund-raiser, I can be contacted by email. My websiteprovides a full picture of my portfolio of services.  For strategic questions that you should be asking yourself, follow me at @wkm610.

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