Customer Care & Relations

Introduction

Did you know it costs five times more to sell to a new customer than an existing customer? Well, many businesses are sadly paying the price because they fail to encourage repeat sales from customers. This is often the result of poor customer relations / customer care.

One thing that business owners often forget is that customers are the driving force of their business: without them, they have no future – it is the same for everyone. You may currently feel that your relations with customers are good, but can you do more?

Customer Relations can be considered as a form of marketing- a happy customer will inform five people: an unhappy customer may inform ten. Unsatisfied customers will then go elsewhere and consequently, you lose a customer to your competitors and in turn, they may drag others with them.

Good customer relations will give you a sense of achievement, satisfied customers and the improved chance of further promoting your business. So, how can you ensure that your customers will stay loyal to your business?

It is not a hard and demanding task as you may be thinking, which is the point of this article: to make you aware of a few simple things that can improve your customer relations today and in the future.

Customer Relations Policy

Create a customer relations policy instead of just making it up as you go along. Your policy is a guarantee to your customers that you are dedicated to achieving customer satisfaction. Your policy may state that you aim to achieve 100% order accuracy, 30-day money back guarantee, speedy service, fast corrective action on customer issues, promise of low prices, free delivery, etc.

Each statement may have a few sentences in small print to explain in more detail the terms, conditions and process. Be sure that all of your staff understands the policy and stick to it at all times.
Display your policy in your workplace so that it can be easily viewed by customers: knowing that you aim to achieve customer satisfaction is a welcomed action by the public.

In addition, you could have your policy printed on the back of your till receipts. When you advertise your business, where possible, include your policy. Basically, your policy, can become a marketing tool for your business, but be sure that you can (and do) satisfy everything that you have promised.

Give Them What They Want

Why should you, it’s your business right? True, but if you don’t have what they are looking for, they have no reason to continue using your business in the future. Many businesses ultimately reduce their prices as an attempt to keep customers happy, and quite often, it works. For the majority of customers that are loyal to you, they will not be put off by a shift in competitors pricing, instead they thrive on your customer service and care to keep them trading with you in the future.

The only way to find out what sort of experience they hope to receive from your business is to ask the customers themselves: feedback is crucial. A simple questionnaire or a friendly chat is all it takes to find out what your customers are looking for. Inform your staff to make notes of any comments (complaints will be looked at separately, later in the article) they receive so that they can be reviewed as soon as possible.

From the feedback you obtain, put all those feasible requests and suggestions into practice – today! The quicker you can give customers what they want, the better.

Sell to Your Customers – Keep in Contact

Often, gaining repeat sales and customer loyalty requires a little push. Keep in contact with your customers offering them your services by phone, but avoid sounding too much like a salesperson: blend your objective of selling into a social call. Keeping in personal contact with customers gives them a sense of feeling valued and even if they do not buy anything from you this time, your customer care may be rewarded in the future.

It may be that you do not keep in contact via telephone: e-mails, mail shots, and to some extent, faxing, can be used to contact customers. Timing is also crucial when keeping in contact because too much contact can become annoying and excessive mail shots could be treated as SPAM. It is therefore important that you realise what would interest individual customers so that you can target them with relevant material at the right time.

It is fair to say that you can’t keep in contact with ALL your customers, therefore you should concentrate on those that are extremely loyal or those that bring you good business.

Reward Your Customers

Rewarding customers’ loyalty is a common practise. A free gift, a discount here and there…anything just to say thank you for their continued loyalty: unexpected actions are always welcomed by customers.
Reflect Your Business

When customers visit your premises, what first impressions do they get about your business and your concern for customers? Is it inviting and easy for the customer to find what they are looking for? It is a fact that many people get their impressions of your business by the layout and décor of your premises.
Similarly, if you have an on-line business, do you expect people to buy from you if your web site has poor design and navigation? Although this section relates highly to other areas of marketing, it still all comes down to caring for your customers: if you cared – you would make an effort to keep them.

Summary

The difference between good and poor customer relations may be the difference between having a successful business and not. It is important that you always put your customers first and constantly do your best to adapt to their expectations and needs.

Having good customer relations can be a powerful marketing tool giving you an immediate advantage over your competitors, even if they offer lower prices: the fact is, loyal customers prefer a good service and value for money.

Building customer relations is done through a number of actions and so it is important that you implement the right mix to gain the loyalty and continued sales of your customers. Remember- it is much cheaper to keep your existing customers than finding new ones

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