Getting fighting fit to compete and win...
Views on the economic outlook range from 'lower than forecast growth' to the possibility of a full blown recession.
Whatever your view, the consensus seems to be that times are changing.
While it doesn't seem to be affecting business yet (our clients continue to report strongly growing sales and profits) it makes sense to make sure that your business is in fighting fit condition to compete and win.
In this article, Chris Newton outlines what a massive difference it can make to your business when you deliver superb customer service.
At a time when so few businesses pay real attention to service - differentiating on your service is a great way to 'zig' while everyone else 'zags'.
The bottom line is you can significantly improve your bottom line by providing truly great customer service...
10 tips on providing SUPERB customer service
By Chris Newton
There is no doubt that companies who distinguish themselves through providing superb service also distinguish themselves with far greater levels of sales and profits - Here are some statistics to ponder. Research into why customers stopped buying unearthed that:
- 3% stopped because of INCONVENIENCE
- 9% stopped because of a RELATIONSHIP at a high level with someone in a competitive company.
- 15% stopped because the price was too high or the delivery time wasn't fast enough, or the product wasn't right.
- 5% stopped because of some "miscellaneous" reason … which leaves 67%. Why did this whopping 67% stop buying ?
Superb Service holds the key!
1. Customer retention gives you enormous leverage.
Here's another astonishing piece of research for you to dwell on for a moment.
A change of just 5% in your customer retention rate will produce a staggering 25% increase in your profits! (Source: Bain & Company – Consultants).
Clearly, "creating" clients or customers is only the tip of the iceberg. Clearly, you should do everything in your power to keep your existing clients coming back to you. And that means implementing systems that guarantee your team members give superb service every time.
2. Show your customers you really DO care.
The single largest reason why people change from one company to another - an incredible 67% - is perceived indifference. Another way of expressing this is when your customers feel you just don't care.
The key word here is perceived! You see, you may care more than anybody in the world about your customers. But unless you communicate that care, and demonstrate it, you'll lose them.
3. Service standards like you wouldn't believe!
Question. What's the difference between one supermarket and another? You may even be able to think of the chains I have in mind...
Answer. Performance standards etched in stone and a culture that works.
At one supermarket, you ask where you can find the sugar, and you get politely escorted to the right aisle and to the exact shelf.
At another in exactly the same situation? You get sent on your way with a wave of the arm in the general direction of the aisle where the sugar is located.
Where would you shop next time? No contest.
4. Prioritise your ideas.
Business people have good ideas - a wealth of good ideas. And one of the most common problems is knowing how to implement them in your business. Obviously, you can't do them all at once, so how?
Prioritise! List them in order of importance. Draw up an implementation schedule. Brainstorm them with your team to further develop the ideas and to let the team members "own" the ideas. And appoint team members to put them in place. You'll get far more accomplished and the results in your business are often quite mind-blowing!
5. Just a quick note to say -
Imagine how you would feel receiving a note like this after you've purchased something from a store.
Good Morning David,
You know, customers are the absolute lifeblood of any business. That's why we're so delighted to welcome you to "Harolds". You see, we're committed to providing you with first class products and total quality. Plus, of course, the kind of service you'll be happy to tell others about.
Again, thank you for visiting "Harolds". It really does make us feel very special.
P.S Next time you visit I'd love to speak with you. I'd also like offer you a special gift - so do drop in again soon.
Would you be inclined to go back to a store like this?
6. Shout it from the mountain tops!
If your business DOES something different - something unique - tell your clients and prospects all about it.
Some years ago a retail chain in Singapore, 'Giordanos', was like any regular jeans store - except for three important exceptions:
1. There was a free phone in every store so that anyone who dropped in could make local calls free of charge.
2. There was a fax machine so that anybody could send a fax free of charge.
3. They had a pile of umbrellas for customers to use when it rained.
Interesting isn't it?
Apart from these 3 areas - which have absolutely nothing to do with jeans or clothing - Giordanos was just your average jeans store. Yet the place became a huge teenage meeting place!
So why did it work? Simple. They made a big song and dance about what they did so everyone - and I mean everyone - knew about them!
7. Customer satisfaction is NOT enough.
Your aim should never be to satisfy your customers.
It simply must be to delight them.
Think of it this way. People expect to be satisfied when they go to a business. So when they're only satisfied it really is nothing special. However, when you exceed their expectations you have an overwhelming impact on them - and their chances of coming back to you become very good.
8. You have to think "outside the box".
Perhaps the single biggest hurdle you face in providing superb customer service is a mental one - learning to think "outside the box".
We often impose rules on ourselves that are never actually imposed by the problem we face. We inadvertently conform to traditions and norms, rather than seeking the very best solution. So what should you do?
Try to break away from the "rules" that you've learnt over the years. Be different. Be daring. And go with the ideas you really think will work - not just the ideas you feel obliged to use.
Yet another Singapore example. Imagine yourself riding in a cab provided by the COMFORT Cab Company that has this on the dashboard:
C is for Caring
O is for Observant
M is for Mindful
F is for Friendly
O is for Obliging
R is for Responsible
T is for Tactful
The sign tells the cabbies what's expected of them and it tells you and me exactly what we can expect when we travel in a COMFORT Cab. But that's not all. Underneath the sign is another one that reads, "I am the best person for this job and no-one else can provide a better service because I am a COMFORT cabbie".
Now thats dedication and service!
10. Small things = Big Differences.
As you're no doubt beginning to see, it really is the small things that make a world of difference in your business. Going that extra mile. Making that extra effort. Showing you really care.
They mightn't cost you much - they often cost you nothing at all - but the difference it will make to your customers' perception of you is enormous. And you'll see the rewards where it counts most - on your bottom line.
Here's a final tip - and it is one that will truly help you to implement these ideas with passion and commitment. It is "annualise everything"!
What do we mean by that? Very simply, train yourself to see the "big picture" ramifications of small improvements.
For example, if you try a "cross selling" concept, don't just figure the profits for the week. Extrapolate it for the year. It may translate to thousands of pounds. Tens of thousands. If you run a new headline on an ad and it generates and additional 10 sales at (say) £100. That's not just a £1,000 in extra sales. Annualised, that represents £52,000 in extra sales.
It puts everything into perspective and helps keep you hungry for new ideas and new strategies.
What is your next step? To begin implementing these ideas! Just take one or two - and see the "leverage" they give you for lifting your sales, for delighting your customers, for achieving your objectives.
And please - do take advantage of our help. Each of the services we have created to support you is proven and powerful.
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