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Hand on heart – are you really giving your customers the exceptional treatment that will keep them loyal to you? The interaction you have with your customers on an individual basis will almost directly determine your long term success. Marketing and personal branding expert Sharon Williams advises that in the technology age, more so than ever old fashioned personal service is still the best marketing tool at your business’s disposal.
If you have your head deeply immersed in your business, it is easy to lose sight of what is really important. While other company goals seem more pressing, it is your customers’ simple wants and needs that will drive, shape and grow your business. Good customer service pays back with tangible rewards; it leads to referrals from customers and that means new business.
Sharon Williams grew her own marketing business by keeping her clients happy with fantastic service. Her first client Peter Kazco, founder of the Kaz Group, remains a loyal customer and fan.
Sharon reveals some tips of her successful relationship with clients:
1. Keep in regular personal contact with your customers
Devise a Touch point program to contact customers five times a year for a legitimate reason. “Multiple points of contact, or touch points as I like to call them, help manage and maintain the relationship through a mix of communication methods such as telephone calls, face-to-face meetings, emails or newsletters or event invitations,” says Sharon. “One of my first events as a sole practitioner was to take my twelve CEO customers to a beautiful restaurant for breakfast. Not expensive, lots of fun, no agenda, just chatting to like minded CEO’s but lots of business was done as an unintentional result,” says Sharon.
2. Be available to your clients
Get back to people quickly. Make sure that your voicemail and email message, when you cannot be contacted, gives information about when you will be able to get back to the caller.
3. Know your customer
Being able to provide customised service is a great advantage. Find out what keeps each customer awake at night – know what pressures they face so you can offer timely help. It is clever to adapt carefully to clients needs, and remember client circumstances change constantly through life events such as divorce, purchasing holiday homes and children growing up.
4. Segment your clients
Print off your customer list and take a close look. Not all your customers are the same, or fit into one group. They will have different demographics, different personal situations and work in different industries. After you group your customer base into like-minded individuals – work out what interests them, what drives them and give them relevant attention. Tailor your approach to each group and market accordingly.
5. Add value
Make sure you take every opportunity to add value for your customers, such as informing them about market changes like legislation, budget, interest rates.
6. Survey your customers and check how your current customer service rates
It is important to regularly survey your customers to track how you are doing. They have all the answers and will tell you what they do and don’t like about your service levels. If their feedback is positive then make it your minimum standard of customer service excellence.
7. Learn from others
When you experience great customer service, record it, file it and adapt it for yourself. Be constantly open to suggestions on improving the service you provide. “The simple things that make for magic customer service moments. The man who delivers water to our office once took the time to grease the squeaky hinge on our front door and it is that little something extra I remember about the water company,” says Sharon.