You may think you’re in business to sell financial courses, or clean carpets, or sell health supplements. But that’s only part of the story. The other, critical part of being in business concerns the people who are paying you money for your product or service – your customers.
Without your customers, you’re an office with silent phones, a warehouse with nothing going out, a staff of trained instructors with no one to talk to.
In other words, you don’t have a business at all, but just an expensive hobby.
So, your customers are vital to your business, and you need to treat them not as an inconvenience, but as a necessity.
Why It Matters
You spend a lot of money to get people to respond to your direct mail campaigns (or any marketing campaign). Now that you have some live customers, why would you let them slip away because you weren’t prepared to deal with them properly? Here are just some of the benefits you will accrue from great customer service.
I know I keep repeating this, but it’s something that bears repeating: Your best source of new sales is the people who have already purchased something from you. They are your most targeted group of prospects. And the cost to get a second and third sale out of these buyers is much less than the cost of getting the initial purchase.
Once you’ve identified a buyer, your next goal is to build customer lifetime value. Getting your buyers into a sales funnel that leads to more and more sales is critical to building a secure base for your business.
If your buyers have an unpleasant experience with your company, or they’re dissatisfied with the product, they will not come back for more. That means you’re always facing the task of finding new buyers, and never reaping the benefits of repeat buyers. That’s no way to build a business.
Word of Mouth:
Not only will your happy buyers keep coming back to get more of what you offer, but there’s a good chance they will tell their friends. And if those friends decide to try your product too, they are new customers that cost you nothing to obtain.
So, not only do you want to keep your existing customers happy, but you want to encourage them to share the information about you. But they won’t do that if they’ve had a bad experience. Why would they tell their friends to do something that might backfire on them, and make them look bad? They wouldn’t. And then you’ve lost out on all the word of mouth business that could have really boosted your growth.
Advantage Over Competition:
Not everyone is aware of the importance of customer service. Some businesses are so arrogant, they don’t think they have to bother.
But, if you’re smart enough to realize how important this issue is, and you provide much better customer service than other businesses in your niche, you will smoke the competition. Now when homeowners have to decide which appliance repair business to call, or car owners have to decide which tire shop to go to, there won’t be any question in their minds. You will be the one they turn to.
One thing your business doesn’t need is a negative call from the Better Business Bureau, the Chamber of Commerce, the Department of Consumer Affairs, or a lawyer. But customers who feel they haven’t been treated properly, or that your services have been misrepresented, could seek retribution in many ways.
Never forget that consumers are protected by government entities like the Federal Trade Commission. So don’t give anyone a reason to contact them. Good customer service can smooth over a lot of difficulties, and save you from some big headaches.
Don’t Wait for Problems – Anticipate
Good customer service should be uppermost in your mind. Don’t wait for problems to materialize. By putting yourself in your customer’s place, you can anticipate some possible problems, and head them off before they blow up in your face.
Be Ready to Respond as Soon as Your Direct Mail Campaign Is Mailed:
One easy way to lose customers is to send out a direct mail campaign, and then not be ready to handle the calls or visits to your website that come flooding in.
Have your call center set up, have the ordering buttons on your web site working, and make sure everything is in place to make the customer’s ordering experience as easy and seamless as possible.
Oh, and make sure the phone numbers and URLs in your sales pieces are correct. Check them and check them again before you go to print. And if there’s a problem, stay up all night fixing it if you have to. Every customer who calls a dead line, or tries a URL that leads nowhere, could be gone for good.
Make Everything Clear in Your Sales Material:
Make sure that all the aspects of your offer are crystal clear in your sales piece so your buyers never have a nasty surprise.
List everything that comes with your offer, and make sure the piece can’t be misinterpreted as promising more than you’re actually giving.
If the bonus that comes with a purchase is a trial size of one of your products, don’t make it look like it’s regular size in your illustrations.
If you’re giving a one-month $1 trial, after which the person is automatically put on monthly autobill for $29.95 a month unless he or she cancels before the 30 days are up, make sure that is spelled out. Then, even if the person complains, you are protected.
But it’s more than just protecting yourself. You will arouse bad feelings in buyers if they feel they’ve been fooled. An important part of good customer service is honesty.
Train Employees and Call Center Personnel:
One rude employee can do a lot of damage. Make sure that everyone who answers your phone or staffs an online help center represents you the way you want to be represented. They need to understand that customers are important, even when they’re annoying. Yes, some customers may try your patience, but handle them well, and they could turn into your biggest fans.
Adapt Your Products and Services to the Wishes of Your Customers:
We all tend to think we know better than others. But sometimes you have to be willing to adapt to what your customers want, and not just expect your customers to “put up” with what you offer.
For example, if your price point is too high, people won’t buy your product, even if you think it’s worth it. You may have to adjust your price to keep your business going.
Or, if you run a pizza parlor, you may think putting pineapple on a pizza is a crime. But if a huge percentage of your customers want pineapple on their pizza, you’ll just have to give in or you could lose a lot of business. Within reason, give your customers what they want.
Remember . . .
Bad customer service is a nasty habit that keeps on stealing from you. First, you can lose your initial sale. And then you can lose all future sales from that customer, and all the other customers those first customers might have told about you if you had treated them better.
Put your customers first, and they will put you first.