Thinking About Your Customers

A customer bought a mobile phone from a well-known cell phone carrier. A few weeks later, the phone suddenly malfunctioned. The customer decided to send it back to the carrier for replacement.  A representative from the company learned that the problem was the phone’s corrosive battery, indicating that it had been exposed to water. “Too bad”, the rep said, customer can’t have her phone replaced or fixed since liquid damaged phones are not covered by warranties. But even as the water damage indicator showed no signs that the phone had been exposed to water, the representative was unrelenting and uncooperative. Instead of getting assistance, all the customer got were excuses – the battery was probably exposed to the moisture in the air after the package was opened, perhaps a tiny drop of water went its way inside the phone undetected, etc. The customer eventually gave up and just bought another phone – from the company’s competitor.

The company may have “won” the argument (“Sorry… not our fault.”) but they have certainly lost the trust of that customer (who went and told her family and social media friends about the incident). For all we know, the company may really have been innocent. But the way the situation was handled made them look so bad they could very well be guilty of selling defective items to the public. Okay, that’s jumping to conclusion. But the lesson here is, when a customer has an issue with your product (whether valid or not) you don’t make ridiculous statements and act so defensive. Don’t try to save face at the expense of something more important – your customers’ trust.

When people purchase something from a company, they trust that their needs are going to be met. The company, whether it is large corporation or a just small enterprise, should know how to value that trust. Great quality? Check. Affordable price? Double check. Customer service? Uhmm, we’ll cross the bridge when we get there…. If this is the way your company  handle things, then you are not seriously thinking about your customers.

Interacting with customers is more than selling your wares to them. You deal with each one not just to ensure a sale but more importantly, to build strong relationships. Keep in mind that customer retention can help ensure a company’s survival, especially if it’s a small local business. After all, it is more expensive to chase new customers than it is to keep your existing  ones.

How can you keep your current customers?

Create value and loyalty by consistently exceeding their expectations. As you know, businesses are naturally expected to meet customer’s needs. But when you go out of your way to provide greater value – excellent customer service, reduced product cost, offering something extra for free, etc. – you are exceeding their expectations, thus also creating a differentiator for your brand. Value practically exists from the customer’s point of view. What you need to do is learn to see everything through their perspective. Otherwise, as shown by the above scenario, policies and businesses practices will limit your view and keep you from thinking about customer needs.

You should also consider how other aspects of your business serve your customers. Customer satisfaction doesn’t just depend on sales transactions or close contact customer service. Employees working behind the scenes also have an impact on total customer experience. Keep in mind that every department can affect the way the company delivers its services. Yes, even the accounting department (Better watch out for any incorrect or unexplained charges, accountants.).

Encourage your entire team to develop a customer-focused mindset to help your company achieve the goal of delivering satisfying customer experience. Even if you have the best marketing people and the best advertising campaigns, but you are not thinking about your customers and how to keep them happy, you are simply replacing one angry patron after another.

By: Shirley Tan


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