“Success is neither magical nor mysterious. Success is the natural consequence of consistently applying basic fundamentals.” – Jim Rohn
Savvy business people understand the role excellent customer service plays in the success of their business.
They understand that winning customers and building loyalty doesn’t happen overnight and that building strong customer relationships requires a consistent and ongoing team effort to retain their customer’s hard-won loyalty.
They know that while pricing is important, loyalty earned through delivering on promises and taking care of customers will often win the sale and keep the customer, even where pricing may be a bit higher.
Savvy business people also understand how fragile customer relationships are and how easily hard-won loyalty can be lost through poor customer service and issues not quickly resolved to the customer’s satisfaction.
Most customers understand an occasional misstep or problem that is handled quickly and with care. What they usually won’t tolerate is neglect, rudeness, not delivering on promises, unnecessary bureaucracy and inconsistency in products and service, to name a few.
This is especially true when other competitors are eager and hungry for their business.
How Strong Customer Relationships Are Built
The importance of consistency in building strong customers relationships can’t be overemphasized! Customers want to have confidence that we’ll deliver on our promises every time, and not just when it’s convenient.
In fact, . . .
- if we consistently deliver good products and services across our organization,
- if we mean what we say and say what we mean,
- if we underpromise and overdeliver,
… then the potential for our organization to not only grow but reach extraordinary heights is real.
It won’t guarantee success but if we deliver in these areas we will lay the foundation for us to achieve more and it will usually separate us from our competitors.
A Foundation of Consistency
Companies like McDonald’s and Starbucks weren’t always big guys. They started out small and grew. And their growth was laid on a foundation of consistency in their market, in terms of the quality of their products and the service they delivered.
When consumers choose them over an unknown competitor they usually do so because their brand has a reputation for consistency in the products they sell and the service they provide.
Unfortunately, seriously great service coupled with a great product seems to be rare.
It often seems that in the decision-making stage we woo customers with pleasant service and fast turnaround. But, once they sign up for the service it’s a whole new experience.
An experience comes to mind of a new customer of mine who bought a service from another company that looked and sounded great, on the surface.
The service promoted itself saying their “easy to use functionality and user interface will leave you wanting more!” But after buying the product, the customer found that trying to get a response from the support department took days, and that’s if they responded at all.
The company’s supposedly “easy to use functionality” was an empty promise.
Can you guess how the customer might feel about this company now? Was the company building a strong customer relationship? Not a chance!
Saying Pretty Much Anything To Get The Business?
For some businesses, it almost seems that they’ll say pretty much anything to get the business and do pretty much nothing to keep it.
When customers make a decision to do business with us, will they discover that we’ve underpromised on what we will deliver?
This is the type of experience that people hope for and the type of experience they will talk about and share with others, with positive results for our business.
Of course, they’ll talk and share if we don’t do this too, and the results won’t be so positive.
Our Online Reputation
With the wide usage today of social media by consumers, managing our reputation online and offline is more important today than it has ever been. And negative feedback is something we don’t need.
Once someone has decided to do business with us, once they’ve paid for our product or service, what follows can set us apart from the pack. It can differentiate us in a good way or a not so good way.
Those of us running any size of successful business know firsthand that building customer loyalty isn’t an overnight effort. It’s an ongoing and consistent strategy and practice that can make the difference between success and failure. And consistency plays a critical role!
5 Ways To Develop Consistency & Build Strong Customer Relationships
- Create opportunities where salespeople and customer service staff can meet together to share problems and possible solutions to customer service related issues. This can help break down silos between departments and build staff relationships and ownership, all of which impact customer service.
- Conduct an online survey and invite customer feedback on their experience with your business. Although the number or percentage of those completing the survey may seem small, they will often be either your biggest fans or your biggest critics. The input from both groups can be invaluable.
- Ensure your marketing materials make promises you can and will keep. Ask your staff to provide input and suggest revisions for consideration. Don’t promise what you aren’t able to deliver! In the end, it will hurt your business not help it.
- Set up automated responses to incoming client emails, to ensure nothing falls through the cracks. Provide customers with a reasonable time frame for expecting a response from you, and then make sure they have a response well ahead of when they’re expecting it, or at least no later.
- Monitor your online networks and your online reputation. Watch and listen to what people are saying about you online to catch praise and dissatisfaction and to buoy or repair your reputation. Responding graciously to those dissatisfied with your service is as important as responding graciously to happy customers.
There are many factors that impact how consumers feel about our business. Consistency and truth in what we do and say, whether in advertising or face-to-face with consumers, will make it easier for them to trust us, buy from us and even to refer their friends and others to us.
This post was updated in 2018 since it first appeared on Nimble.com.