Many businesses measure success according to sales, profit margins and other internal factors. However, in doing this a business focuses directly on its own interests and risks neglecting the needs of its most valuable asset: its customer base.
Instead of asking how a certain procedure or deal would benefit the company, ask instead how it would benefit the customer. By approaching business in this way you can maximise customer loyalty, thus both improving profits and creating a solid and faithful customer base.
Measuring customer satisfaction
It is important to first measure customer satisfaction with your company as well as with the services it provides. On the surface, this can appear tricky. However, there are a few simple methods of gaining reliable data illustrating customer satisfaction. Firstly, look at levels of repeat business from your existing customers and weigh them up against complaints.
It is also worth considering that for many businesses, the 80/20 rule applies: 80% of their business comes from only 20% of their customers. Try analysing the top 20% of customer accounts, to ascertain whether they are growing, staying flat or decreasing. This percentage should be steadily increasing in a well-thought out, customer-centred business.
Consider that it is the customer, not the company, who determines value. It is important that your own employees are aware of and working towards this, thereby increasing the chance of satisfied customers and continued business. In the present day, good business is about efficiency and customer service. The quality of the product or service you are selling should be guaranteed.
Face-to-face meetings with customers
Face-to-face meetings are a great way to create a lasting impression that will instil confidence in both you and the customer, while ensuring continued profit.
Your employees should be professional and impeccably presented when greeting the customer. The environment and staff are both important in showing the customer your level of professionalism. The next thing to remember is consistency in customer service – from the first meeting right up to getting feedback from the customer once the product has been delivered.
Product knowledge is sometimes overlooked, yet it can be the deciding factor in a face-to-face meeting with a customer. If you and your staff are experts on the product or service you are providing, you should be able to answer any query the customer may have, giving the customer belief in your product.
Reliability is the final, crucial, cog in the customer satisfaction wheel. If you promise but do not deliver, you probably won't have that customer for much longer. Reliability is what sticks in customers’ minds, making them much more likely to continue doing business with you.
Service is, in itself, a product. It shows the customer whether you are focused on profit margins, sales or the customers themselves. It is also irreparable should a customer experience bad service. This is dangerous, as it cannot be recalled (like a faulty product); nor can it be ignored. The cost of gaining a new customer is estimated to be 5 times more than the cost of keeping an existing customer. Additionally, a 5% rise in customer retention can make a business 25% more profitable. This is a huge leap for a small percentage of happy, returning customers.
From the employees’ perspectives, they should receive meticulous training in customer service and product knowledge, so that they are fully equipped to deliver a top quality customer experience. On the rare occasions when something does go wrong, there should be a clear and precise system of accountability. Measures like these will facilitate repeated custom, as well as the opportunity to exceed customers’ expectations – something that will set your business apart from many others.
Finally, stay in regular contact with your existing customers. This will show good faith to the customer and make their opinion feel valued. It is important that you are working for them and not the other way around. Former customers can also be useful. It is worth contacting them to find out why they no longer do business with your company.