Do You Know Your Customers?
"He who asks is a fool for five
minutes, but he who does not ask remains a
As you know, I do consulting and training for
organizations on a number of topics such as
communication, team building, motivation,
business writing, and managing change.
Because of my own experiences and those of
others I have talked to, I'm focusing more on
Poor service - who is responsible?
Here's the tragedy. We all think we provide
excellent customer service. And yet, we all
complain about the general lack of concern
for the customer in our society. It appears
that everyone is guilty of poor service
So, for 2008, I'm going to focus this
newsletter on aspects that provide
outstanding customer service, or as I refer
to it, cherishing your customers. If you are
sure that your organization is already
providing outstanding service to your
customers, just skip down to the puzzle. (smile)
I've worked with a number of small businesses
and found that very few have mastered the art
of knowing their customers. It shows in
their marketing materials, in the way their
phones are answered, in the way their
products and services are presented, and the
way their salespeople and front line
personnel act toward the customer.
Who is your customer?
The biggest problem seems to be that small
businesses do not know who their customers
are and what is important to these customers.
There is a ton of information available on
how important this knowledge is. Large
companies spend huge amounts of money on
obtaining more and more information on their
customers with only a few using the
For instance, my bank convinced me several
months ago that purchasing a credit bureau
monitoring program was a good idea. After
the break-in at my home, it seemed an
especially good idea to make sure no
additional accounts appeared. Since I signed
up, I have had no fewer than a dozen phone
calls asking me to sign up for this same
service. I realize these calls are being
made by some subcontracted firm, but they
always start by saying, "We appreciate you as
a loyal (name of bank) customer..." Well, if
you do appreciate me, surely you would keep
track of the fact that I've already purchased
So as a small business without the funds to
put a CRM (Customer Relationship Management)
program into place, what can you do to find
out what your customers want? It's really as
simple as ABC.
*A* Ask your customer
How did your customers find you? What
caused them to come to you over every other
similar business? What else you can do for
them? What additional products and services
would they like you to deliver? What do they
like about doing business with you? How can
you improve? Make sure you give your
customers a way to provide you with feedback.
You can't please everyone, but the customers
you really want to keep are the ones who
don't complain. The problem is that these
customers just disappear without letting you
know why. If you don't ask, you'll never know.
*B* Become the customer
Walk through the
experience of doing business with your
company as a customer would. If you didn't
know anything about your company, what would
you want to know? This may be as simple as
making sure that your contact information is
on the first page of your website and at the
bottom of every email you send. It may be as
difficult as writing text for your marketing
materials that focuses on benefits to the
customer, not the features of your product.
What else does your customer need? Are there
other products and services you can you offer
to your existing customers that will make
them see you as the solution to their problems?
*C* Celebrate your customer
customers who have been with you the longest.
What do you do to let people know that you
appreciate their business? Do you reward new
customers more than you do existing ones?
Recruiting new customers costs considerably
more than holding onto your existing
customers. Create specials and reward
programs for those long-term clients. Let
your existing customers know how much you
value their loyalty.
How often do you contact your existing
customers? You don't want to overwhelm them,
but you might want to consider a newsletter
or postcard as a way to contact them on a
regular basis. You can reach out by email,
postal mail, or by phone. Just make sure
that you stay in touch.
A new year is always a great time to make
plans for your business. Look at what you
can do to follow the ABCs of customer
contact. (If you need help, please let me