Customer Service is the Fourth Key to Sustainable Business Growth
In our Fall 2019 issue, business advisor Phil Symchych started a discussion on the ‘Six Keys to Sustainable Business Growth,’ which has inspired a series. In his fourth article of the series, he looks at customer service and what it means for your business.
Did you know that Apple wants your experience of opening their box containing their latest device to trigger the same feelings as if you’re opening a gift?
Did you know car companies spend lots of money on research and development to engineer the sound of their door closing into a reassuring, confidence building “thud” that communicates quality?
Customer service isn’t just about your product or service and its benefits. Customer service is about the total customer experience, from initial research to ordering, delivery, implementation, follow-up, and after-sales service. After all, if a company has you as a customer, they want two things: they want you to come back, and they want you to refer others.
This is where small/medium enterprises have a huge advantage over large companies with engineering and research and development departments. You can customize the customer experience to suit each customer’s unique needs and preferences. You can recalibrate quickly and implement changes on the next customer.
Think back to your recent unpleasant customer experiences. Pre-COVID, I ordered a shirt online and it came in the wrong size—not even close. Now, shopping local, my favorite menswear store knows my size and always offers something with a great fit. Why was I wasting time online?
Online shopping may be convenient, but as the Rolling Stones say, “You don’t always get what you want.” Therein lies your opportunity—be different, be better, don’t waste people’s time, and create a loyal customer.
- Anticipate what they might need. You know your solutions better than the customer does, so be proactive.
- Customize unique solutions for them. A little thought and planning to fit their preferences and objectives will go a long way.
- Provide them with two or three options at different price points. This gives them control and frames the solutions. Too many options, like trying to buy a television with thirty options on the wall, is overwhelming.
- Make a recommendation and an offer. They can accept or reject it and you can refine your solutions based on their feedback. This gives them an action point and tests their commitment while positioning you to help them best.
The ultimate way to wow your customers is to treat them like the human being they are, with a brain and personal preferences. Even in business-to-business transactions—especially in business-to-business transactions. That is because business don’t deal with other businesses; people deal with people.
The customer in front of you is not a sales transaction to be rushed through with utmost efficiency. It’s a long-term relationship to be nurtured. Everything you do or don’t do before, during, and after the transaction impacts your relationship with your customer.
Some questions to think about, and then act upon, because action creates results.
- How can you create a gift-opening experience or reassuring “thud” that implies quality for your customers?
- What does your customer like and dislike about your solution? Ask them to be specific so you can change it.
- How can you adjust your offer to optimize results? In other words, just like a new version of an existing product, how can you make your prior product or service better?
- How can you make implementation easier and better for the customer?
Good things will happen when you step back and observe what and how your customer is buying and reacting to your offerings. When you have this knowledge, you can make little improvements that will remove irritants and increase value. Don’t be surprised when your customer says “Wow!”