Sunday, July 01, 2007

 Taking Care of Your Customer

Most small business owners understand the importance of outstanding customer service and taking care of their customers needs. However, most of us can improve our relationship with our customers. This is especially important when we begin to understand the impact the quality of this relationship has on our bottom line.

I would like to offer seven points, which will help you to improve your customer relationships. First, make them number one. When you are with the customer don’t let distractions get in your way. The ringing phone, the employee’s question and the work sitting on the production counter must become secondary. Your entire focus needs to be on the customer in front of you and their needs.

Second, be attentive to your customer. Pay attention to what they are saying and what they may not be saying. Look at body language and eye contact as you discuss their needs. The customer will offer signals which you can learn to read and respond. If they are open and communicating openly, you have their interest. If they are quiet and not making eye contact, they may not understand or agree with what you are saying. This is a sign you need to ask questions to get to their root concerns.

Next, learn what is important to them. What do they value? Pay attention to what they are saying about work, family, recreation and you will get a good indication of what is important to them. Their value system will influence their buying decisions. Tune into their values and address them in your sales presentation.

Fourth, when the customer is wrong…the customer is right. We’ve heard this before. Customers can be frustrating at times. They may demand the impossible. It is up to you to decide whether you can deliver. But, because the customer is always right, there will be times when you need to realize you simply cannot accommodate the customer’s request. Be brave enough and smart enough to acknowledge this. If you have an alternative, which may be workable, offer it. If not, you may need to cut bait and run. Suggesting to them they find someone else to service their needs. This is easier done in the initial sale. If you have done your sales work properly, these situations should not arise after the fact.

The fifth point is Keep your head while all those around you are losing theirs. This was the role I always felt was most important when I was photographing weddings. It also applies to our everyday business. You do not want to lose your cool with a customer. When you do, YOU LOSE. If necessary take a deep breathe and mentally back away from the situation. Assess and calmly move forward.

The next point is to try to Under Promise and Over Deliver. In other words give you customer realistic expectations in your products and services. Don’t say things you don’t mean or can’t fulfill.

And finally, be sure to follow-up with your customer after the sale. A simple thank-you note and a phone call is a great way to acknowledge the importance of the customer to your business. This is something your customer will remember for a long time.

These are just seven suggestions on things you can do to improve the relationships you have with your customers. They are meant to get you thinking about how you can better serve your customer. If this is an area in which you need help, feel free to contact us.

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