3—Ways to Satisfy and Retain Your Customer Base By John O. Alizor, PhD
Good companies recognize the importance of customer satisfaction and offer good products. Likewise, great companies also offer good products, but focus on retention of existing customers by offering great services, and investing in ongoing professional development training to employees. Great companies have a zero tolerance policy for employees dishonesty at all levels, arrogance, false promises to customers, product misrepresentation, failure to return calls to customers, omitting documenting conversations with customers, putting sales commission over customer service and employees unwillingness to assist customers or clients when needed. Most companies seek to expand their customer base through advertisement, referrals, conferences, social media, internet marketing, branding, and other ways not mentioned here, but fail to promote activities that create customer retention base. Customer retention is critical to organizational health because of the increase in global competition. Today companies must enhance their product quality with extraordinary customer service to maintain a competitive edge in any industry. Whether you are in retailing industry, service organization, or manufacturing, remember that the world has become “flat” due to the internet accessibility. Your competitors now include global and domestic organizations. Here are the three ways to help you satisfy and retain your customer base while you strive to increase market penetration and product profitability:
Strengthen Service through Honesty Customer retention and satisfaction must start with employees understanding of the importance that their actions play in customer perceptions of your organization because customers tend to impute all employee mistreatments to a company’s culture. Employees, also, must understand and be able to explain their company’s products including all available service options of company’s products to their customers. I remember a negative experience with a retail outlet of a leading cell phone service provider in which the sales personnel misrepresented the performance of his company’s product and withheld available service options from me because of a rush to earn a sales commission. Yes, he would rather make a sale to earn a commission than explain, to me, other options that would not earn his sales commission, a good example of dishonesty. In fact, he was in such a rush to make his commission sales that he failed to inform me that there was a 30 day time limit to return or cancel the transaction. His failure to disclose all options cost me almost a thousand dollars. A good product alone will not keep customers coming back but great service and honesty will always bring your customers back to your business.
Humility Built Strength Arrogance, at any level, is a bad business for any organization. Create an environment where customers’ complaints are welcomed and resolved by all means possible rather than where managers exhibit their position power or where staff members argue with customers. Allowing customers to have their way, with limitation, builds strength and keeps customers coming back to your business. I remember a bakery supervisor of a chain supermarket arguing with me when I pointed out to her that their bread which was marked “Hot at 4pm” was cold at 4 pm. She was not ready to welcome my complaint which was legitimate. As she argued with me, other customers listened, creating a weakness on her part and a negative publicity for the store.
Smiles Retain Customers Great companies train their staff to always maintain a positive attitude when dealing with customers because they are aware that when an employee smiles at customers, they keep coming back. No one knows this more than Ray Kroc, the founder of McDonald restaurant who once said that “You could influence people with a smile and enthusiasm and sell them a sundae when what they’d come for was a cup of coffee.” Provide your customers great service and a smile then you are most likely to keep them as customers for life.
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