Times Are Tough. Do Your Customers Know You Care? 3 Steps to Becoming a Trusted, Customer-Focused Business

January 25, 2009

A down economy is the best time to connect with your customers.

Consumers are seeking trusted business sources to hear their concerns and provide them with options. Customers want your ear and your empathy. They want to be heard and acknowledged. They need to know that you understand and care about what they’re going through — even if they’re not buying from you at this point in time.

It comes down to this: You may have the best product or service out there, but that alone won’t guarantee your success if you haven’t built loyal bonds with your customers. Your existing customers are your best customers. They will thank you with their repeat business and send you business referrals. And they will think of you when they’re ready to buy — in good times and in bad. But customer loyalty must be earned.

Unlike big business, small organizations are uniquely able to cater to customer needs and earn their loyalty. How do you do that? By being 100% customer focused every day, with every interaction, in every aspect of your business. Here are three ways simple ways you can earn their loyalty by focusing on super-serving your customers.

1. Be Passionate About Your Customers

Being passionate about your customers starts with listening to and hearing their concerns. Make sure you always understand what the customer is saying or asking. Educate them on the value of the products and services you provide, and offer them solutions based on what they need. Passion means proving to customers you are vested in their success.

Passion also means being accessible, accountable, and HONEST. If there’s a problem, don’t gloss over it. Own it. And don’t quit until you make it right. Saying, “I’m sorry, let’s work this out” goes a long way toward earning your customer’s gratitude and return business. Get on the phone, send an email or send a personal card and make that personal connection.

2. Use Every Interaction as an Opportunity to Build a Relationship

Consumers today are feeling beat up and shrugged off by the sorry state of some big-business customer service. Customers desire connection.

We have a mantra here: “Connect to give.” We make every effort to connect with our customers for no other reason then to stay in touch and strengthen our relationship. We remember birthdays, send advice and support, and sometimes just a hello and an inspirational quote.  In doing so, our customers rely on us as they do their friends and we take a lot of pride in that.

Every interaction — be it over the phone, in an email, or across the counter — is an opportunity to deepen your bond with your customer. Make sure all your employees share your commitment to your customers’ success.

3. Learn What’s Important to Customers and Deliver It

The businesses that are going to survive this economy unscathed are the ones who are listening to their customers and adapting their businesses based on customer feedback. By letting your customers know that you are not only interested in their feedback — but you are willing to act on it — you can build stronger customer relationships and earn your customers’ loyalty.

Extend invitations for customers to give you feedback at every opportunity. If you have a physical store, put a suggestion box at the counter — alongside your email sign-up list.

Include an open-ended question at the end of every email marketing communication asking, “How are we doing? What could we do better?” Better yet, do it in a “hand-written” card and send it in the mail with a stamp. That act alone will set you apart from your competition.

Survey your customers to find out what they want and need right now. Ask them, if they’re not buying from you now, why not? What would it take to get their business back? Report on that feedback to your mailing list in your future email marketing communications.

Write a Question-and-Answer column in your email newsletter inviting customers to sound off and tell you what’s on their minds. Offer free advice. Use customer feedback to inform your email marketing content and drive your campaigns.

The economy may be turbulent for some time. The good news is, building loyal customer bonds is an investment in your business’s future. Because when the dust clears and the economy picks up again, loyal customers are more apt to come back to a trusted source with whom they’ve done business before. But that’s true only if they believe you’re focused not on what you want to sell them, but on what they need. Today that might just be a good ear that shows you care.

For more information, check out www.BuildRelationshipsToday.com

Jeff Battiston, www.GlobalCapital-LLC.com

Jeff is Founder and CEO of Global Capital Services, a company that provides financing to businesses and municipalities.

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One Response to “Times Are Tough. Do Your Customers Know You Care? 3 Steps to Becoming a Trusted, Customer-Focused Business”

  1. qscss Says:

    This is very good information about the article it explain defination of customer also explain the how the interact with customer,how to maintain the customer relationship
    it’s really useful in our business.
    i recommend it in my community.

    http://retailnu.wordpress.com


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