Did you know:
- According to NewVoiceMedia, an estimated $41 billion is lost by US companies alone each year due to poor Customer Service.
- The probability of selling to an existing satisfied customer is 14 times higher than the probability of selling to a new customer, says Marketing Metrics.
- Price-related issues are less detrimental to a business than Customer Service issues which are 4x more likely to cause your customer to defect for your competitor(s).
- Consumers say they’re happy to support a small business in order to get personalized service and 60% are willing to pay more for that service.
- 97% of people are likely to tell their friends, family, and co-workers about a great Customer Service experience.
- 96% of unhappy customers don’t make their complaints known to the business, says CientHeartBeat.com. They’ll just walk away and you won’t know why, but depending on their circle of influence, hundreds of others might.
These are just some of the many hundreds of statistics from well-known, business research organizations that support the theory that Customer Service is indeed affordable, easy to implement, and the best common sense Marketing Strategy that a small business can implement to wipe out their big box competition – yet so few actually do it. Indeed, I would argue that this is really the only competitive advantage that a small business has – period.
During this month of love, here are some ways that you can make Customer Service a priority in your organization:
- Heads up plus a Hello – Make sure customers are greeted, looked in the eye and spoken to directly. Even better if you know them by name. There’s just nothing like it and your big box equivalent can’t even touch that. I walked into a store recently and all three cashiers were head down, texting. One didn’t even realize there was a customer in front of them waiting to spend their hard-earned money.
- Don’t ask questions that can be answered in the negative – Don’t train using “May I help you?” rather train staff to ask “What are you looking for?” This has to be answered and a properly engaged customer is more likely to purchase.
- Dial your business phone – Then put on your customer hat, is the greeting friendly? Do you state your address? Perhaps cross streets? Clearly communicate your business hours? Give them your website and/or an alternate phone number for possible emergencies? Do you check messages frequently enough (a problem on many cell phones used for business), so that no one ever hears “This mailbox is full. Goodbye.”
- Handwritten notes – The art of the handwritten message isn’t dead, in fact, it’s having a resurgence. It’s personal and helps you stand away from the pack. I keep blank cards with my logo on the front. I use them for client birthday messages, How are you – it’s been a while notes, invitations to speaking engagements, etc. So, if you don’t remember what your handwriting looks like anymore, this is a good way to see! Whenever I do this, I get a positive outcome.
- Is your return policy customer-friendly? – For the first time I recently had to return something I purchased on Amazon. I had inadvertently tossed the packaging but the item had its tag. So, I went into my account, pressed a few buttons, was able to print out a return shipping label. No hassles, no attitude, no third degree and they didn’t demand to see my driver’s license (hint, hint). An easy customer-centric transaction. I put it in an envelope along with a note saying ‘Thanks for making this return so easy.’ Done. Three days later I received an email confirming the credit on my next statement. This is retail Nirvana for busy, stressed-out consumers like me. Compare this to my trying to return an item to a well known grocery chain. The item I purchased gave me a bad skin reaction. Never expecting that I didn’t save the receipt. The service person stared at me and blurted out their “policy” without even so much as offering me a store credit, or apologizing that she couldn’t help me. So, I asked about a store credit and again she blurted out their “policy.” I left the item on the counter since I was not going to use it again, walked out and will likely never return.
Even a small adjustment in your Customer Service mindset and operations can lead to far-reaching improvements in your marketing efforts and will seamlessly support those efforts and keep customers coming back. Loyal customers are your best source of income, provide your business with referrals and with great reviews. It’s a win-win for all.