Making your Business Friendly for Customers

“Don’t finish a customer interaction without asking what else the customer may be looking for – or what other area of help they may need.” – Shep Hyken

At some point and with a variety of companies, customers have experienced shoddy and slovenly customer services, which in turn makes them cautious about all companies. Despite the rise in the number of companies, they are not keen to make a switch from one company to the next. However, substandard products and poor service would drive them away, and given the amount of resources a company puts in to attract a customer, customer churn would be detrimental to the health of the company. Unless a company backs top quality offerings with excellent support, it would be hard to retain customers. Making your business friendly for customers, will drive prospects towards your company and keep existing customers with your business for a long time. Products and offerings along cannot drive business – they must have the backing of support that is friendly for customers, else customers would seek a company that is friendly and supportive. The manner in which a company interacts with customers and target audience is one of the main determinants for customer loyalty and business success.

Companies lose tons of money each year because customers leave them owing to shoddy customer service. With so much riding on proper service, it would seem strange why companies do not pay more attention to making their business friendly for customers. The desire to keep customers happy must reflect in everything a business does – only then would they be able to convince customers that they are genuinely interested in making their lives simpler and happier. An unfeigned approach to service, a company culture that revolves around its customers and employees who understand the value of service would make for a business that is friendly for customers. Any company needs its existing customers to come back with more business and make efforts to acquire new customers – a reputation of friendliness and trustworthiness can bring a company both.

In order to appear friendly for customers, it is imperative that customers can perceive a desire on the part of the company to communicate honestly and work relentlessly to establish bonds with customers. This is the essence of great customer service. The fact is that customers want to see these efforts from the start of the association – they are unlikely to wait around, guessing whether the company would make the time to do more for them. The bad news is that there is no dearth of competitors ‘lurking’ around, waiting to grab away customers at the slightest hint of discomfort – that leaves a company with no ‘window’ of opportunity to try again or even accelerate its efforts. Of course, there are a number of things that a company can do to make its business friendly for customers and ensure that they can see it – for example ensuring that the phone is answered within 2-3 rings and the person answering it sounds pleasant and ready to help. The converse of this can instantly ruin the impression, especially for a first time caller, and could never return assuming that this behaviour would be the norm for the company. A company does not need to do great things – good or bad – to let customers know who and what it is like – these small instances and connections suffice.

Making a business friendly for customers also means that customers can connect with it in any way and through any channel, they deem appropriate. By not providing them with this flexibility, a company would be forcing, in a way, customers to make added effort to connect with the company. This is the opposite of friendly and easy customer service and does not go down well with customers. While there may be a cost implication in providing multiple channels of communication, the benefits usually outweigh the costs, over time. We do not mean to say that companies use all the channels that exist – that would be dangerous too, since the quality of service and communication is very likely to falter given the difficulty in managing such a broad spectrum of services. Observe and monitor customers to understand their most preferred channels of communication – use as many of those as are feasible and easy to run. This will not only make it simpler for your company but would also make the business appear friendly for customers and aligned to their preferences. It is necessary to check back regularly with customers as to what they feel about the business, policies, and the customer service. Use their feedback and insights to get better and make the required improvements – one of the top ways to portray a customer friendly business.

Starting from the inside of the company to reinforce trust and friendliness with customers, means that everyone within the company is aligned with the vision of a business is friendly for customers. The company’s vision, values, and culture must consistently highlight the importance and significance of customers and the importance for each person in the company to portray empathy and care for them. The company’s vision statement must have a significant portion dedicated to customer-focus and the need to display a demeanour that is friendly for customers – companywide. It must emphasize the urgency of keeping customers happy and doing whatever it takes to keep them with the company. Each person must understand that their own success and the success of the company ties in with customer satisfaction and retention. No customers means, no business, which in turn translates to no jobs.

There must be a constant desire and efforts made to understand the company’s customers. By getting to know their needs and expectations, a company would be able to provide them with the exact offerings and services that they would want. A good benchmark would be to find out what your company’s nearest competitor does to keep its business customer friendly and aligned to customer’s needs. Get better than competition and customers will flock to your business and stay on. This also implies that within the company there must be stringent rules and standards that everyone must follow when serving customers. Customers should also be aware of these standards of service, such that they know what to expect and raise any ‘red flags’ in the event of deviations or lapses. For employees, customer service standards must be part of each person’s KPIs, which should determine a person’s growth path and salary increments in the company. The standards must be achievable within the company, but high enough that competitors find it hard to match up.

A company must ensure that it makes it simple for its employees to follow and comply with the standards of customer service and remove any obstacles that could prevent them from making a business that is friendly for customers and for them to have memorable happy experiences. Without providing employees the resources and empowering them to make decisions, customers would experience rote service encumbered by rules and regulations, not aligned to making their life simpler. Over time, customers tend to break away from such companies and possibly never return. Companies just have to break away from the ‘traditional’ methods of doing business and keep pace with their needs and expectations, in order to come as friendly for customers.

A company that consistently strives to make its business friendly for customers does not just make happier customers but also increases its own profitability, significantly and on a sustained basis. Customers love companies that pamper them and make them feel special – they tend to value their association with such companies and would even pay more for offerings, to continue receive such ‘treatment’. Keeping them at the centre of everything lets them know that your business is truly friendly for customers and appreciates their association. Such customers not only provide repeat business but also recommend the company to others – this is clearly a win-win situation for all.

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