What small business owners in his right mind would not treat his customers well if that leads to business growth. Yet there is no shortage of companies, large and small, that fail to take care of this basic fact resulting in disastrous results. Try calling customer center of your telephone company and see how long you have to wait before being able to talk to someone. Or go to a mall and study look at the expressions of customer service reps when talking to customers. How come very few of them bother to smile?
So, why is it important to treat customers properly?
It is self-explanatory, but formal studies and anecdotal evidence show that great customer service leads to higher sales. This results not only from repeat customers, but also from new customers who hear about your business through word-of-mouth. This generates perpetual cycle that eventually enables your business to scale new heights. This is how Netflix became a juggernaut in DVD rental and how Zappos.com built a billion dollar shoe business. before selling to Amazon. Customer service is one of the several ways in which small businesses can compete with and beat their larger rivals at their own game.
What does it mean to treat customers as human beings? It involves several aspects all of which relate to basic human need to be recognized and interacted with.
- Greet them by name – Let’s face it. Customers want to go where everybody knows their names. The simplest and cheapest way to flatter someone is to welcome him by properly announcing his name. Just try it. Works every single time!! This is where small businesses have a leg up on their larger rivals. As an owner you have established close relationship with your customers over years.
- Ask about their needs – There are two ways you can sell to customers. You can either push your products to them or you can have customer pull themselves. Pushing your products with hard sell techniques works for once or twice, but eventually it will turn off your customers. A better approach is to spend time in understanding their needs and then providing suggestions. Let customers decide (pull) what will suit their needs based on your suggestions.
- Have a casual talk – I have learned the power of casual talk from my family doctor. Whenever I visit him (which is may be once a year) the first thing he does is talk about my family, my job and other things going on in life. Only after he has spent 5 minutes with this casual talk he asks reason for my visit. How many doctors do you know who work like this? I will never leave him for another doctor. This is the power of casual talk.
- Meet them face-to-face – In this age of phones, emails and video chats it is easy to connect with customers virtually. And it does help when you are short on time. However, as long as humans exist there will be a need for personal, face-to-face meeting. No amount of technology will replace this. Whenever you have an opportunity, make a plan to meet with customers in person even if it is for a short duration.
Growing your business is all about having repeat customers who will help you find new ones through word-of-mouth. Establishing personal connection with them is how you can achieve this goal.
What do you think?