Make your Customer Feel Important

Make a customer, not a sale. ~ Katherine Barchetti

As the number of market players grow and the spread of technology and information widens, companies are having a tough time remaining successful. The ones that are successful owe their success to repeat business from existing customers. Customers and repeat business has a direct co-relation to customer satisfaction. Customers who feel ignored by the staff seldom return. The trick is to make your customer feel important since doing so builds customer loyalty. Even though each customer is different and the needs vary, the expectation that you will make them feel important and special is ubiquitous.

“A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favour by serving him. He is doing us a favour by giving us an opportunity to do so.”- Mahatma Gandhi

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Customers more than before are expecting that if they are spending time and money on any player in the market, they must treat him or her like royalty. Making your customer feel important has a number of benefits and will pay rich premiums in the long haul. Pricing wars and product features are important but a number of players are competent in the two areas. What makes or breaks a deal now is the level of care and empathy displayed by the staff which customer’s perceive as a commitment to make them feel important and vied for.
“Being on par in terms of price and quality only gets you into the game. Service wins the game.” ~ Tony Allesandra

Assisting your customers from the start of the relationship, going through it with them till culmination is what great customer service is all about. Exceeding customer expectations and creating experiences that have copious amounts of empathy, care and responsiveness are the attributes of customer service that will keep you in the game. We all prefer working with people who we like and who like us, around whom we are comfortable or are our friends. Customers too will repeatedly return to you if they feel they are working with friends who are committed to provide fast, effective and ready solutions and also have great products and pricing. Keep your customers with you longer by building close relationships with them – make your customer feel important.

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What should your modus operandi be that will leave the competition frustrated when despite their best efforts your customers refuse to desert you?

• Customers don’t need glittering lights or fancy carpeting and decoration for you to make them feel like the stars of your show. The first person they meet when they enter your office premises should just look up at them, make eye contact and smile their brightest smile. The customer will instantly feel elated and know that you are glad to have them. Your customers are your celebrities – make them feel important.

• The smile and eye contact must be accompanied by a pleasant greeting by taking the customer’s name. A person’s name is the sweetest music to their ears and you can be sure to have your customer’s attention and the start of a strong bond. Make sure that everyone in your company has imbibed this culture and even within your organization people are respectful to each and call each other by name. This culture will reflect on when they deal with your customers.

• You need a customer ‘base’ to survive and not just one or two. Hence treat each customer equally, treat each one as the best and ensure that each interaction they have with your company is memorable. Be attentive and constantly look for ways and means to do those ‘little extras’ that make your customer feel important. Being treated this way each time will elate your customer enough to go out and extol the extraordinary levels of customer service. Gear up to manage the influx of prospective customers!

• Trained and attentive staff would be able to adequately convey to the customer that they are valued. That’s how customers want to feel – important, valued and special. They are not interruptions to your day but the most valuable asset for any business. Smile at them and be genuinely empathetic. “A smile is a curve that sets everything straight.” – Phyllis Diller. Would you want to be greeted by a sour faced grumpy service staff?

• When a customer has a problem, what will make them feel important is when they see you going all out in trying to resolve the problem. Irrespective of the time of day and inconvenience it causes to you. If the solution is ready and available, provide it instantly. If not, provide a timeline by when you will have a remedy. And deliver. Timely and effective resolution of problems is a sure shot way to make your customer feel important.

• A customer that has been with you for a long time expects that you can anticipate their needs and pro-actively resolve them. A friend’s boss was a frequent flyer and was always booked on the same carrier. His special requirement was an aisle seat that allowed him room to extend his left leg due to a physical condition. When on leave once, despite leaving clear instructions to the substitute, the substitute forgot to mention this particular need while booking the flight seat. Naturally this upset the boss when he realized that he was given a rather cramped seat. The carrier staff however, recognized their valued customer and changed his seat with some juggling of seats, and accommodated his special need. They did not need to wait for a special instruction. They expressed the value of this person’s business and went all out to ensure that he was comfortable and felt important. He still flies with the same carrier and even influenced others to do use their services.

• Acknowledge your customer’s continued business and loyalty to the company but thanking him or her at the end of every interaction. Flaunt your appreciation of them and see them do the same for you.

• As a company if you need to cut corners to save on cost – like reduced working hours or a fewer number of staff at certain times in the day, the customer too bears the brunt. Make sure that service levels remain constant despite this so your customer can clearly see that they are important to you. They will even support you in your endeavours if they can see your commitment to serve.

• Encourage and empower your front end customer service staff to add to their existing skills and also pick up new skills. Cross-training and shadowing of another employee who handles a different task within customer service, broadens the skill set and equips each person to handle every area within the realm of customer service.

• Provide the most widespread customer service possible. Cover all the communication channels available. Let your customer use your services even beyond normal working hours. As internet communication channels have higher visibility what you do AND DO NOT DO for your customers will get noticed. Ensure that your customer service makes your customer feel important on these channels and you can be sure to get noticed by a lot more prospective ones.

• Provide what your customer needs irrespective of what measures you need to take. Customers perceive this as a guarantee to create a long term relationship rather than just selling off the one product or service. It may seem counter-productive to refer a customer elsewhere if you do not have the product or service they want, but this delights the customer as it is seen as your commitment to serve them despite the odds. A great way to make your customer feel important and cement loyalty.

Customers that feel valued and important reward you in more ways than one. They will talk about you enough to create a hype in the market that will send your reputation soaring. Valued customers become loyal and loyalty insures profits and long term growth and stability.

We see our customers as invited guests to a party, and we are the hosts. It’s our job every day to make every important aspect of the customer experience a little bit better. ~ Jeff Bezos

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