Customers, guests, clients no matter what you call them don’t tell them you value them. When you tell customers they are valued, you almost certainly will do or say things that indicate you do not. How often have you heard, we will have no choice but to pass the costs on to the consumer? This is a prime example of a company demonstrating that they are more interested in protecting themselves. How many times have you been loyal to a company only to feel that you were punished for that loyalty? Price increases and poor or reduced services are among the top reasons customers feel penalized for their loyalty.
Your customers don’t want to hear you say you value them they want you to show them. Here are some ways to demonstrate that you value your customer relationship:
Continuous improvement – Show consistent and incremental improvement in performance on the customer’s behalf. Deliver more to them in less time. Strive to exceed their expectations, under promise so that you can wow them later.
Adding more value – It is natural that costs will go up and that some of the costs will be passed on to the customer. When that happens try to find other ways to add value such as improving your service, adding additional products or some type of customer appreciation program.
Active communication – Communicate with them before they ask for your attention. Reach out and check in with them more frequently. At the first sign of trouble, tell them what you are seeing and how you are adjusting in order to compensate. If you are working diligently to “fix it” let them know, don’t wait until you find the fix.
Give it away for free – Write a blog, newsletter or host a webinar that provides real information not something that just acts like an advertisement. These things should provide answers to problems and proven methods of fixing them even if they don’t use your service. This is a great way to establish credibility in the market.
Along with demonstrating that you value your customer your employees have to be customer focused. Below are ways to help your employees become customer focused:
Define it – Develop a clear definition of what customer focus means to your organization. Customer means different things to different people, give them a common way to understand what customer means and what the expected behaviors are. Make sure your vision or mission effectively guides operations in the treatment of the customer.
Show the connection – Help employees make the connection between their work and how it impacts the customer. If they can’t connect their work or even their job security to the customer they will treat them as an interruption to their day.
Talk about them – Add the customer to as many discussions as you can. If you are thinking of making a change talk about how that will impact the customer. Review the short-term or long-term gains you are driving to ensure they don’t come at the expense of the customer.
Recognize them – Have a strong and consistent praise mechanism in place for employees who demonstrate the right customer focused behaviors. When employees believe they will be recognized they become motivated to do things differently.
Truly empower them – Give your employees the power and freedom needed to effectively manage the customer, their expectations and to solve problems. Provide them freedom within a box so that they don’t have to escalate or delay giving the customer answers or solutions to remedy a situation.Stop telling customers you value them. Stop telling your employees that the customer matters without providing clear guidelines for what that means. Once you stop saying it and start demonstrating it you strengthen relationships, customer loyalty will thrive and you will outpace the competition. Keeping a customer is far less expensive than gaining a new one.
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