By Greg Knowles
You’re a leader in your field. Everything you do is top-notch, and you offer the highest level of service. Your customers are happy. Everything seems to be going well and you expect your business to enjoy continued growth and success. But will it?
Today’s world is more competitive than ever before. Customers can easily search out and connect with new vendors any place, any time. Are you mindful enough of your customer relationships?
After all, according to a 2013 study conducted by The White House Office of Consumer Affairs as reported by salesforce.com, it is six to seven times more expensive to acquire a new customer than it is to keep a current one.
You simply can’t afford to lose good paying clients. They’re too difficult – and costly – to replace.
Here are four things you can do right now to nurture and improve your customer relationships so you don’t lose valuable clients.
1. Utilize communication
Consistent customer communication might seem obvious, but you’d be surprised how many businesses fail to do it. Once a business relationship is up and running, it’s easy to take it for granted. Business owners or sales reps naturally assume that all is well if they don’t get complaints. Realistically, that’s probably not the case.
Eighty percent of the firms believed they delivered a “superior experience” to their customers, but only eight percent of customers believed these same firms were actually delivering.
So how do you know you’re actually delivering great customer service if you don’t ask your customers?
Talk regularly to your clients. Instead of sending them an email or text, pick up the phone. Use it as opportunity to check in and ask questions about quality and experience with your staff.
2. Welcome customer feedback – good and bad
You can’t touch base with customers every single day, so what happens on the day they have a bad experience and you haven’t communicated?
Make it easy for them to report the issue. Have a complaint area on your website that explains exactly what to do if they run into a problem, as well as a real person or department to contact.
Have procedures in place to make sure complaints get resolved quickly – and always get back to the customer to share the resolution.
It can require 12 positive customer experiences to make up for just one unresolved negative experience.
3. Use social media to communicate, listen, and learn
According to a 2011 study by Bain & Company, when companies engage customers over social media, those customers end up spending 20 percent to 40 percent more money with the company.
Social media not only allows you to talk to your customers, it allows your customers to talk to you.
Maintain an active social media platform to remind customers you’re accessible. Give them a chance to post positive and negative comments through social – and respond quickly.
Publicly responding to social complaints is a good practice because it demonstrates your commitment to customer satisfaction.
4. Request ratings and reviews
Requesting a rating or review is always proactive step. Today, customers have plenty of outlets to rate and review your business – and, if they’re angry or displeased with your service, they likely will.
According to David Pogue in a 2011 article in Scientific American, “All of a sudden, the masses are conversing with one another. If your service or product isn’t any good, they’ll out you.”
According to a 2011 survey conducted by American Express:
Americans tell an average of nine people about good experiences. They tell 16 (nearly two times more) people about poor experiences.
Own part of that conversation and give your customers an opportunity to provide ratings and reviews on your own website. They’ll be less likely to blast you on a more public, external platform.
You’ve worked hard to build your business; you can’t afford to jeopardize your success by ignoring customer service issues. Take steps today to ensure your customers are satisfied. You can’t afford to lose them.
Today’s post is by Greg Knowles, president and CEO of Autonomy Technology Inc., a top 200 electrical wholesale distributor in the U.S. He has 25 years of experience in industrial distribution, specializing in sales, business development, and leadership.