Posted in Marketing & Strategy Articles, Total Reads: 10918
, Published on 22 August 2012
Although there are lot of companies which uses customer service as a tool to rectify the customer complaints, they overlook the things which are essential to make customers happy. In today’s marketing world where customer is the reason any business survives, it is really very critical to satisfy customers’ needs.
Customers today want the very most and the best for the every cent spent, and on the best conditions. Only the individuals and companies that provide extremely exceptional products and services at reasonable prices last. This article explains the practices which can be exercised to please the customer. Also the article explains the difference of types of customers
Those were the days when Ford used to sell the cars in black colour only quoting “any colour you wanted providing it was black”. Today, the whole idea of selling a car in one colour seems absurd. There are millions types of cars available in thousand different colours and still customers are unsatisfied. What has changed is the fact that where as in market, today the situation is reversed and now the customer is king. That is what today’s customer is. Customers are now able to tell you – what they like or dislike about your product, marketing system, business and brand. This is where the substantial change has happened. What has led this change in the customer’s behaviour?
What led customer to be a king?
Why a cloth selling company will take the automotive parts back from the customer? Well that is why ‘Nordstrom’ famous for. It is story when a customer returned automotive part to Nordstrom stating that it was bought from Nordstrom and Nordstrom accepted it back. According to Nordstrom, the clerk accepted the tier back because that is what customer wanted. The whole story explains the importance of customer in today’s market and the extent companies are luring them.
There is no disbelief that today’s consumers are at a far better position than that of past as consumers with more safety, security and choices towards product as the products are made as per their convenience, needs and desires. Lately the markets have been transformed from “sellers market" to “buyers market" where the choice exercised by the consumer will be influenced by the level of consumer awareness achieved. When it comes to customer preferences, it is not a matter of right, wrong or what might ultimately be acceptable. It’s simply a matter of what the customer wants to buy.
Meeting some of a customer’s demands may be expensive. But then, consumers are the one who is paying for the product. Today the firms do not leave any stone unturned to attract the consumer and gain a significant market share. The companies have started differentiating their own products with the consumers’ eyes. They promise of the value to be delivered and believe in customer value proposition. But what makes customer so important to business owners?
Why customer is important?
To any business, customer eccentricity is as important as product. Today the markets are guided by the desire of customers. There are companies like Southwest Airlines quotes that “We like to think of ourselves as a Customer Service company that happens to fly airplanes”. Customer eccentricity is extremely essential to a business, because without customers you will no longer have a business. It has been studied that customer are very prone to lose interest in the product with every new product launch.
It is known that process of acquiring new customer needs more money on advertising and marketing to make new people aware of your business and get them in the door to make a purchase than that of retaining the old customer. It helps to provide revenue and certainty for the business. If organizations do not develop customer loyalty and satisfaction, they could lose their customers. It is essential for the companies to create a friendly atmosphere for customers; greetings, smiles, and eye contact. What else should business owners consider to make the king happy? Is just a customer service or effective customer service required?
How to please the king?
Who wants to lose? Nobody – that’s why a win-win resolution is so important. Studies have shown that keeping customer happy has always given positive results to company. In any service industry, it is very often when the customer gets cranky and comes back frowning. Turning that cranky customer into your number one cheerleader is not a big deal. Making little changes to service style can make big differences to your customers. Here are some tips to go from okay customer service to great customer service.
Ask, listen and communicate- Always provide customer what is expected. Have proper communication which keeps customer calm. Also it is very important to listen to customers need. A good listener is always a good seller. By listening to customers you can best determine exactly what they are looking for and help them determine the best product for their needs.
Stick to promises made- It is always important to play the sales game without misleading the customer about products, pricing, delivery etc. Stick to promises you made to customer. Reliability is an important part of any good relationship. Broken trust definitely hurts business in a long way. This rule applies to all aspects of your business including appointments, deadlines, etc. Also As a seller, it is equally important that a customer buys into us before he or she buys a product.
Treat customers kindly- It is the human tendency to get pampered which implies to customers too. Always give customer something more than expected. They want to feel like valued customers whose time and opinion matter.
Be Innovative- Customer is a hungry species and keep looking for new things in the market. Bit of innovation definitely helps to attract new customer. It also helps retaining the old customers as well which is utterly critical to any business in the competitive market.
Create personal relations – Studies have shown that a well planned public relations campaign is often far more effective than advertising. Public relations will customer helps seller to build goodwill among customers and community. It alleviates the brand popularity and creates good perceptions regarding your company and services. There are many other ways such as appreciating the alliance, loyalty programs or reward points which enhance the confidence of customers.
Be passionate about customer experience - It is very important for a seller to identify the reason he is in business. It is none other than the customer who demands us to be in the business. We as business owners should be focus to provide a good customer service to our customers.
Believe in your product - Selling is only a transfer of belief. It’s simply helping others believe the same way you believe about a product or service. Also it is always easy to get other people in something in which you believe too. Hence it is very important for a seller to believe in his product before convincing buyers to buy that same product.
Smile - Who else can understand the power of smile more than a sales person. A man without a smiling face must not open a shop. Smile speaks that you are positive about the interaction with the customer. It helps you to gain the confidence of the customer and gives an ease of access to customer.
Power of 5 W’s – As said by Donald Porter - Customers don’t expect you to be perfect. They do expect you to fix things when they go wrong. It is very important for sellers to understand the problem of the customer. It is one of the most influential ways to calm a furious customer is to show you really do comprehend their dilemma. To ensure the clarity of the problems, you need to ask questions which explain power of 5 W’s which are: Who? What? Where? When? Why? The Ws help us to solve the problem efficiently and quickly.
Resolve disagreements -“Do it with a LAUGH”. Customer complaints are the tests which teach us to learn hard and fast. Five A’s are definitely a best approach to solve any dispute with customer without any further pending grudges which may not be in favour of you. Use Acknowledge, Apologize, Accept Responsibility, Adjust the solution and assure that customer that problem will be solved.
Remember the golden rule- Put yourself in the position of the customer, and treat them as you would like to be treated as a customer by the business owners. Would you be like to suffer as a customer? Definitely Not. But there are times when customer can have unreasonable demands or tries to exploit the services given where business owner should identify the right customer. How to identify the right customer and when the customer can be wrong?
Is the customer really always right?
In my opinion, most of the customers are right but there is always going to be a customer that just cannot be pleased. These customers are from one those people, who are nit-pickers, whiners and belongs to “the know it all” crowd. These customers can never be pleased even after offering free services.
Take an example of US number one Southwest Airlines. Few years back, Southwest Airlines employees asked an obese passenger to pay for two seats. The passenger later sued the company. After couple of court hearing, the southwest airlines won the case. This was a clear case of a customer who was wrong. To any airlines, all the passengers are its liability including the one who sat next to obese person. Business owners are responsible to serve each of their customers equally.
There are several reasons why customers can become irrational or difficult to deal with. As Jeff Bezos has said that “If you make customers unhappy in the real world, they might each tell six friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends”. In the era of marketing where customers are sanctioned with the power of digital and social media to overtly blow up their dissatisfaction. And as a result of that, we hustle to carry out their unethical demands. By this, we build a different cohort of customers who actually adhere to us even when they are wrong and we are right.
Who is the ‘Right’ customer?
Do we know who our right customer is? It is really tricky to differentiate between the right customer and the wrong customer is not right. Studies have suggested few parameters which help to understand the difference of right and wrong customers. Below are the parameters which can used to assess the customer:
Discount seekers – if the customer only looks forward for discount ignoring the kind of service offered, he is definitely from one of those greedy customers which can never be loyal to company and will switch to different products as soon as finds a cheaper one. Business owners need to tackle this type of customers with not depending much upon them.
Win-Win attitude – It is very critical for the business sellers that customers respect their service and brand. A wrong customer always looks forward to have an advantage over the service provided by owners. A wrong customer will always make bad reviews about company where as a right customer appreciates the service offered to him/her and believes in win-win situation.
Other than above, the “right” customer does not take pleasure in misusing the service provided to them and does not enjoy value he or she did not pay for.
An intelligent business owner identifies the right customer. It takes responsibility to make them feel like a king does. It acknowledges the “right” customers in a public way which retunes the expectations of all customers. Treating the “right” customers as kings let wrong customers realize the importance of being reasonable to their demands.
This article has been authored by Jitendra Shukla from S.P Jain College of Management Dubai/Singapore.