Wednesday, 25 May 2016

This is for you, Business owners.

Every good business has this in common: Customer Service.

It does not matter if you are in the service industry or if you are selling product, or if you are online or brick and mortar, you will be dealing with customers no matter what.

What is a business? You have something that another person wants or needs and you sell it to them.

Your best customers are the one's that come back, repeatable customers. Your second best are referral, the ones that come because you have given excellent customer service to your original consumer.

Let me sum it up for you if you don't want to continue reading this post in one sentence.

If you want to give great customer service and don't know how, think like a consumer, put yourself in their shoes and think how will they react to the interaction, and service or product.

We can end the post here, however I love to give examples, and go into more detail with you.

How do you get your first clients?

Word of mouth? Sure that is a good way. Advertise? Possibly. Now let me ask you this. What is your return on your investment (ROI)? How much does it cost you to build your customers and community?

Repeat customers bring your initial ROI down every time they come back. Referral customers cost you zero. To get to the zero sum game you must first understand your customer's needs, identify their main problem, and solve that problem by providing better service than your competitors.

Everything is about experience. Your repeat customers come back because they have experienced something good.

Let me step aside here and ask you, do you remember the last time you had a bad experience buying something? Than after regretting your purchase you never went back to the same store or called the same company back for a service. Most certainly you not only refrained from telling your friends and family to go there, but you also went out of your way to let them know how horrible this service was.

You love to let people know the good restaurants and nail salons to go to because you have had an awesome experience there and you wish to share it because you want people to experience what you have experienced.

What amazes me is that businesses still don't get that treating their customers with importance matters. Customers do not buy service or product, they buy emotion and experience.

Let me tell you about a terrible experience I had at a hotel. No this is not a review or a testimonial, this is me giving you an example about bad customer service. By the way every business should go out of their way to get testimonials, if possible, from every client that walks through their door.

We love our privacy. I felt violated when the hotel staff made an intrusion into my room without knocking or any warning simply to check up on me. It was absolutely unnecessary, and their concern was to see why I have not called the maid service for that particular day.

There was no excuse or apology made. It was something that they considered the norm. Not to mention that the privacy card was on the door.

On the contrary I have had some amazing experiences at hotels around the world. That make me want to give them a great review because I want others to share the same experience that I had.

The best way for a business to understand their level of customer service is by shortening the feedback loop. What is a feedback loop? It is the feedback you receive from the consumer, could be done by a review, survey, or just simply asking them after they have made their purchase how everything went.

Listen don't just hear what they have to say.

Yes there is a difference.

Listening requires for you to focus on what they say, how they say it, and why they are saying it. Intentionally understanding what the customer is talking about. Than taking action based on what was said. Hearing is non of those things.

Kaizen is a Japanese term for continues improvement. When you get feedback from the customer you want to apply and continuously improve your business to cater to their wants/needs. This is why it is important to receive the feedback immediately and not months later.

You definitely should not change your business based on what one or two customers say. You should however be able to understand what works and what doesn't work. If of course all the customers are complaining about the same thing, then you need to reevaluate your strategy, possibly your structure.

Sometimes it is difficult to see things within the company due to bias opinions, and that is were it is best to bring in and outside perspective. "If it's not broken, don't fix it. If you want to grow, then change you way of thinking."

One of the greatest thought leaders of our time "We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used to create them." Albert Einstein.

It is interesting to note that the customers that share their feedback on their own will are usually the ones that had an absolutely amazing experience or the ones that had a horrible experience that they wouldn't want their worst enemy's to experience.

Why is that?

It is because it stands out in our mind the most. We are social creatures and we love sharing our ideas, our feelings, and our experiences.

"Attract people with honey not vinegar"

Let me give you an example of a business that is growing exponentially because of the model and is about to over take the hotel industry in value. Air B and B is a community where buyers and consumers can interact and a service is exchanged; accommodation.

They are growing so fast not because they are an online platform, but because how they have built their community (more on this later). Their feedback loop allows for consumers and sellers to build trust among each other and among strangers.

"Treat every customer like they are the only customer you have."

I want to end it with a somewhat contradictory statement that I will elaborate on another time. The customer isn't always right.

Thank you for reading this post. To be continued....

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