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Categorized | Business

ASK SCORE: Customer service


Build customer loyalty by exceeding expectations


So much lip service has been paid to customer service that it’s sounding like a tired cliche these days. In today’s business world, it is not enough to simply say that the customer comes first. Customers know the difference between mediocre service, good service and exceptional service. Without question, they will make their decisions about where to buy accordingly. Your response to the call for exceptional service must be more than good intentions and excuses pinned on being a small business. Here are some perspectives on building customer loyalty.

• Hire the best possible staff that your budget allows. Your sales and service staff members are on the front line, whether physically or on the phone. Are they trained and do they receive ongoing training? Are they knowledgeable about the products they represent? Are they empowered to judiciously waive policies without consulting you, when it can be done ethically and without taking an unwarranted  toll on your revenue picture? Maintaining a competent, trained staff costs money. If that gives you heartburn, consider the revenue forgone when indifferent and incompetent employees cause you to lose customers.

• Reward  your best customers. If you can offer your best customers better prices on frequent purchases, an up-front price break on their next project with you, or a discount for their prompt cash payment, you will communicate your awareness that they are important to the success of your business.  Customer reward programs are easy and cost-effective to implement once you know what your customers value.

• Offer referrals. Who do you know who might want to do business with your customers? When it’s appropriate, help your loyal customers by passing along leads you come across that can improve either their business or personal lives.

Exceptional service entails treating a customer’s problems as if they were your own-even if it costs you more money. Occasionally you may even have the opportunity to fix a problem caused by a customer’s use of one of your competitors’ products or services. And it is an opportunity: to switch their allegiance.

Exceeding expectations is the icing on the cake of customer satisfaction-knowing what your customers expect you to provide and then adding another layer of value. What can you do today to create the satisfied customers of tomorrow?

Through surveys, comment cards, and simply talking with your customers, you can learn what considerations make the biggest impression on your best customers.

To learn more about ways to meet and exceed customer expectations, contact SCORE Grand Rapids at (616) 771-0305 and talk to one of our counselors who will provide free and confidential business counseling. Call 1-616/771-0305 to talk to a SCORE counselor, or find a counselor online at www.scoregr.org.


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