“Sales Go Up and Down, Service Stays Forever” – Jason Goldberg
As a company, do you realize / understand the importance of customers in the success of your business? We would presume that you do – to the extent that you would say they are critical and quintessential to success. It is simple really – no customers, no business. Every company today must give customers reason to return through top class customer service, high quality products, and memorable experiences. These aspects make customers committed, loyal, and passionate about companies and brands. In the world of business and choices today, customers, even the seemingly good and loyal ones, could easily move away from brands and companies. Others with no empathy and connection to brands, bargain seekers, and those who would remain only as long as the brand treats them well – are all susceptible to ‘temptations’ and competitor enticements.
It is therefore, necessary for companies and brands to give customers reason to return repeatedly by offering what no other ‘player’ could and becoming the ‘go to’ partner for customers. By understanding, respecting, and treating customers as valuable on a consistent basis, a company would give customers reason to return many times over – these ‘feelings’ that companies afford customers are what would keep them loyal, and engaged. Knowing customers well – their buying habits, the reasons they buy or do not, and why they would stop buying, their preferences, pain areas, and other aspects of their life – provide customers reason to return. When customers continually see the benefit of associating with a company, they develop a sense of commitment and belonging, which in turn becomes extremely beneficial for the company in the end. If a company has afforded customers reason to return, customer commitment will follow, which will prove indispensable for the success of the company.
Another way to afford customers reason to return is to know exactly what would inspire customers to buy from a company. The things customers believe are unique and distinct about a company, and why they believe their buying experiences with one company are better, would be some of the reasons that customers would return to a company and encourage others to buy too. Giving customers reason to return, cannot happen without adequate planning. Planning would include collecting and collating information about customers in a bid to understand them. Doing so will keep a company steps ahead of the customer’s expectations, such that when they do have a need, the company would already have a solution, and be able to provide for customer needs even before the customer asks for the help. A high level of service, and after sales support are sufficient reasons for customers to return to a company with more business.
If a company solicits customer feedback, and customers make the effort to provide it, it becomes imperative for a company to monitor and review the feedback, and use it make the necessary changes and improvements customers expect. The customer of today is a lot smarter, wiser, and more discerning, and hence expects great value for money through products and top-level customer service. If a company can demonstrate commitment to its customers, customers will reciprocate through loyalty and will return with more business repeatedly, increasing the company’s chances at success and profitability. Successful companies of today are able to satisfy and please customers despite any market conditions – even offering customers bespoke products and services. Giving customers reason to return is about offering them a hassle free and memorable experience, consistently.
Consistently asking customers for feedback, insights, and opinions ensures that they feel important and valued. Tracking their responses, reverting with a ‘thank you’ for the time they took, and using their feedback to make a difference to their lives will get customers to return. Even if the feedback may not be positive, and even seemingly unjustified, remember to show gratefulness and graciousness. Even such comments are feedback, and rather than dismissing them, it would be prudent to understand why the particular customer holds the poor opinion. If a company can make amends based on the feedback, it could give even the most disgruntled customers reason to return and stay. Remember to highlight praise and positive testimonials on the company’s website, social media sites, promotional and marketing material – not only does this put your company in a positive position, it also provides publicity for the customer.
Giving customers reason to return is also about delivering on promises. Bad news – such as poor service and experiences, travels fast, since dissatisfied customers share their poor experiences with a higher number of people, as opposed to happy customers who would share their experiences with fewer people. Companies must deal swiftly and effectively with poor feedback and give the disgruntled customers reason to return and stay for a long time. Customers invest their time and resources with a company, and in return, they want that the company not only delivers on the promises it made, but also cares for them beyond the said service level agreement. One of the top customers reason to return is when a company treats them as an individual and a celebrity – each customer expects to be treated as the company’s favourite and best customer – indeed a smart company would ensure that every customer would feel special, giving customers reason to return.
As mentioned, customer service and building of customer commitment cannot be the job of a single department / team. This must be embedded in the company’s culture such that service to customers becomes part of everyone’s job description. By showing commitment and dedication to the needs of customers, a company can gain long-term commitment and loyalty from them. This is essential to the success and longevity of a business. Being completely honest with customers and transparent in dealings, allows customers to feel connected to the values and culture of the company. Without the trust and affinity of customers, a business cannot survive. It is essential to give customers reason to return by listening to them, ensuring timely service, and treating them with respect and courtesy. The company’s existing customers would carry the company’s business forward – it is at least 5 times more expensive to attract new customers, as compared to retaining the existing ones. This means that the effort and resources a company spends in attracting and gaining customers must not be wasted through poor service. Every company must work hard to ensure the highest standards of service in order to gain customer commitment.
There are many facets to giving customers reason to return – if there is a problem, a company must ensure that it does not place blame, or hide or ignore the problem. Remaining honest and transparent, while offering immediate solutions is a great way to get customers to return and stay. Customers accept that problems and lapses would happen and they would be more amenable to forgive a company if they perceived sincere dedication and commitment on the part of a company to resolve the problems.
Companies must focus on being proactive and alert to the current and changing needs of its customers. The most successful companies are so because they place great value on developing strong bonds and emotional connections with their customers. In the competitive marketplace of today, customer loyalty must never be taken for granted and a company must focus on retaining existing customers, and giving customers reason to return, consistently.