October 3, 2012
There is no such thing as business as usual during this economic downturn. When the economy is weak you need to strengthen your customer service delivery. Now, more than ever, it’s essential to do everything possible to keep your customers from leaving. In order for companies to maintain stability, every employee needs to focus more time and energy on making customers happy. Customers’ budgets are shrinking. If you can help your customers through this tough time, you may be creating customers for life.Don’t stick your customers with unexpected or hidden expenses. Because my business owns ten website domains, renewing them can be costly. I contacted Rick, the owner of the company that hosts and manages the Loyalty Leader website and asked him to renew all of my domains for five years. After he completed the task, he sent me an email stating that they had accidentally renewed my domains for six years. He was very apologetic about the mistake. His error added $180 to my renewal bill. I immediately picked up the phone and told him that I was unhappy with the added expense. He listened carefully, took complete ownership of the problem, and, less than five minutes later he sent me another email stating that his company would pay the $180 difference. He did exactly the right thing and this is a reflection of the integrity of Rick and his co-workers. In addition to their excellent website development skills, their exceptional service is one of the reasons I love doing business with their company. Look for ways to offer meaningful discounts to your customers. You do not need to wholesale discounts on all your products or services. Instead, identify cost-savings opportunities that can truly benefit your customers. This may involve placing larger orders on a less frequent basis. By increasing the quantity on the reprint of my tips booklet, 101 Ways to Build Customer Loyalty, my printing vendor was able to save me $660. As a result, I am able pass along a volume discount to my customers. Be flexible on your pricing strategies to build long-term profitability. We recently purchased a new refrigerator. I had done extensive price shopping at the large appliance and home improvement stores. Then, I stopped in at a small, privately owned store in Milwaukee to check out their selection and prices. Last year, a technician from this store had repaired our washing machine. We were impressed with his friendly, knowledgeable service, so we wanted to try to bring our business to their store. When I arrived, they had the exact make and model of the refrigerator we wished to purchase but it was priced $100 higher than the larger stores. When I mentioned this, they immediately offered to match the other store’s price. They delivered our new refrigerator the very next morning and have our loyalty for our future appliance purchases. Show your customers value. Your customers will ask, “What’s in it for me if I choose to do business with you instead of your competitors?” You had better know the answer. If you can honestly respond that they will receive outstanding, personalized service, you are well on your way to building customer loyalty. Customer retention is essential for survival in a weak economy. Be specific. Describe what that service looks like from the customers’ point of view. Guarantee that they will speak with a live person when they call. Offer faster response times on their requests. Pay careful attention to their needs and position yourself as a solution-oriented partner so they find it easy to conduct business with your company. Follow through on your promises. Above all, keep on smile on your face, so they know that they are dealing with a person who sincerely care about their concerns.