Are Happy Customers the Goal?
Serving customers well is the foundation of every successful business. Rarely will a company with sub-par service grow and prosper. People expect quality in customer care but is top-notch service enough to create loyalty and sustainable growth?
If a study by the Corporate Execute Board is representative, the answer is probably not. The study was very comprehensive with 75,000 participants and revealed an ugly reality:
- 20% of “satisfied” customers intend to leave
- 20% of “dissatisfied” customers intend to stay
Ouch! The numbers suggest that pleasing customers may not need to be the top priority in your growth strategy. Keeping customers happy improves their experience and reduces service costs but it may not be the best way to keep them coming back. Shouldn’t loyal customers be the goal instead of simply trying to make people happy?
Customer retention is created by exclusivity and relationships.
If your company offers exclusive items, people who want them have to buy from you. The quality of service has little to do with repeat purchases. Exclusivity is a short-term retention strategy because sooner or later, a competitor will emerge. If you don’t have good relationships with your customers, there will be a mass exodus and your business will disappear.
Relationship retention is sustainable and predictable. People who have a good relationship with your company will stay even when the competition offers lower prices. Think about that for a moment. How would your business change if it were driven by relationships instead of price? Would there be more profits? Happier customers and employees? Less stress?
Creating relationships that last a lifetime is a commitment not a campaign.
Time and resources have to be allocated. Every interaction with customers and prospects is an investment in your corporate future. The work is challenging. The rewards are phenomenal because when your commitment reaches the tipping point, your customers become your best sales people.
Relationships are messy. What works for one can fail another. Individuals are, well, individual. They have unique needs and preferences but some things are universal. They want to be respected, appreciated, and valued. If you start there, you are on your way to good relationships. Other things to do include:
- Make it easy for people to shop, buy, and return. The same study mentioned above found that easy trumps exceptional when using service to create loyal customers.
- Give power to your customers. When people have a problem with your products or services, ask them how they want you to make it right. Usually the answers are less than you would offer. If it is more, you can negotiate.
- Be grateful. Saying “thank you” when a transaction is completed is common courtesy. Be uncommon and go beyond the lip service. Instill a sense of gratitude for your customers throughout your organization. Don’t allow people to complain about customers or speak ill of them in any way.
- Educate your customers and prospects. The more people know about your products and services, the easier it is for them to understand why your company is the best choice.
- Remember time is of the essence. Time is our most valuable asset. It is not renewable. Respect your customers’ time. Complete transactions and resolve problems as quickly as possible.