Monday, 20 October 2014

Customer Service: Endangered Species

You CANNOT survive if your business model is 'always look for new customers', Service your existing customers! 

I am forever wondering the same thing...what happened to customer service?

In this fast moving, high energy, business world, when did we lose that good old fashioned 'customer service' option.
It's as if companies don't need customers!!

Has something happened that we have not been made aware of?  Have companies become omnipotent and just exist without having to have customers willing to buy their stuff to keep them in business?

Oh no...actually, they DO need us to buy their stuff but if you want after sales service it seems more and more likely that you will fall victim to the 'we have your money: tough' attitude.

A case in point is the automated service you get on the telephone with these places.  "Press 1 for... Press 2 for...." And then you get a voice telling you that you now have 8 more options...then 4 more options...and then...'I'm sorry, that department is not taking calls, goodbye'. (BT)  Or you end up in India.  They ask you to tap in date of birth, account number, door number, numbers from postcode, dogs middle name and blood group and then, when you finally get through to a life form, they ask for all those details again!

I have trained Customer Service departments when I visited large companies...even small companies whose CS department is only three people...and there are some Laws....


DISCLAIMER!  These are not rules out of a book, a training manual or something from some school, college or University.  They are LAWS!  They come from EXPERIENCE, COMMON SENSE AND THE STREET.  YEARS of experience.  They Work!



BE THE BENCHMARK OTHER COMPANIES ARE MEASURED AGAINST!


Law 1
COMMITMENT
You MUST have a commitment to your customer. THEY, on the other hand, do NOT have or need a commitment to you! You need to create their commitment to you...start now!


One of the biggest challenges companies have is keeping customers.  It's quite easy for a company to mess things up once in a while or to screw a customer around for no reason.  It's done every day.  But some companies take it to an art form.
So many companies send their sales staff out into the big wide world, either door to door or by telephone, to 'get new customers' and completely forget that they already have a ton of customers.  It's far easier to get business from people who are already a customer than to get new customers! Duh!
If you look after your customer then they will be your customer for good.  By looking after your customer I mean: Do what you say you are gonna do, give them what they expect to get, and more...OVERDELIVER!


Law 2
SATISFACTION
You may think satisfying your customer is a big deal? Guess what? It's not a big deal...it's expected!   It is a condition of the deal.  It is expected by your customer, of course. They expect to be satisfied by your product.  They expect to be satisfied by you. You should see that as a matter of course.


Customer satisfaction is a priceless commodity.  If your customer has peace of mind, they won't give you a piece of their mind....Got it?  No issues, no complaints, no challenges.  Your customer isn't expecting a trouble or issue free time but they are hoping for one and they also want to know one thing.  If issues or problems arise, YOU are going to deal with them immediately

The greatest phrase I came up with, and I know hundreds of companies use it now, is when a customer tells you 'I have a problem' your reply should be 'I can remove that problem for you'.  That's it.  Problem over in your clients mind.  If you cant remove it, take ownership and find someone who can, because having a problem is not your customers job, their job is to be satisfied.



Law 3
CONTACT
Remember all that work you did to get that customer?  Why did you stop?  You need to KEEP them.  The work STARTS when you get them!

A few years ago when working in the telecommunications field I was training sales people to switch customers from BT (The UKs biggest landline provider) to a cable telephone system.  One of the things I got the salespeople to make clear to the customer was that when they put the transfer in place they would be BOMBARDED by phone calls from BT asking if they could do something to keep them, or if they wanted different and more cost effective pricing plans.  I made sure that the salespeople asked the customer 'When was the last time they asked you if they could do anything for you?'  The answer was always the same.  NEVER!  Some of those people had been with that supplier for 25 years!  Many companies only care these days if you are going to leave them.  The art, or the secret, is to make sure that your customers are not even looking for a better deal.  You need to make them CERTAIN that you are the best, and you need to do that all the time.  Not just when a predator calls.



Law 4
LOYALTY
A Loyal customer is the best customer you can have.  Better than satisfied.  But then, they are only going to be loyal if they ARE satisfied.

Satisfied customers spread the word.  'Well, my provider is great'...or 'We never have that problem with (your company name)'.  And they tell their friends.  If you don't satisfy your customer, not only will they tell 50 times more people that they are not satisfied, they will not stay.  They will not be loyal.  LOYAL is where you want them.  Stuck to you like glue.  the way to get them like that is to look after them, answer their questions, call them, do what you say you are going to do and quick.

If you are still stuck on whether you want satisfied or loyal customers, think of this.  Do you want your spouse to be Satisfied...or LOYAL?  Got it?
                                                           ____________________


There are more Laws to this...and they really do work but, bottom line is simple....if you want a long term career, if you have kids at private schools, if you have a mortgage, if you want three holidays a year, nice cars, a great standard of living then you need to wise up.  If you lose customers ALL OF THAT CHANGES!
 You CANNOT survive if your business model is 'always look for new customers'  Service your existing customers. 
Over deliver.  Involve them. Call them and ask what else they want.  They bought from you once, they will buy again.


There is a great saying I use and firmly believe in and that is
"The salesperson gives up selling LONG before the buyer stops buying"


You cannot expect to mine for gold in the same place every day...one day it will dry up.  Service your existing customers.  Stop making it hard for them with your automated call systems, your hold music, exorbitant charges, ignoring their calls, emails, requests for help.


Be the company they believed you were when they became your customer.  It was you who told them anyway...don't lie.
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