Yet I come across more and more examples – almost daily – where a business seems to be doing their utmost to drive their customers straight into the arms of their competitors!
I’m sure you’ve seen examples of what I mean. Here are a few of the things I’ve seen more recently …
- A restaurant I went to the other night for dinner with friends had serving staff who were so rude I will NEVER go back (and I won’t be recommending them either)
- A franchise opportunity where the franchisor didn’t answer phone calls or respond to emails, even though a friend of mine had spoken to them once and already expressed an interest in spending £60,000 to buy a License (they kept my friend waiting for nearly a week and when they finally contacted him, it was only to say they were “too busy” to have the meeting!)
- A well known mobile phone provider where the Customers Services Representative actually called my partner ‘a liar’ regarding an upgrade request she had previously placed for a new mobile phone (then the girl found the detail already on her computer system but I think she forgot the call was being recorded!)
- A hotel which is actively being marketed as a place with “Good Coffee and Quiet Meeting Environment” to encourage business people to meet there, but where they serve you pre-made (and quite disgusting) coffee. (I like my coffee…)
- A major Energy Provider who sent a number of threatening letters to a friend of mine just before Christmas, to pay an electricity bill for £3,425.37 which they later admitted had been sent to the wrong person in error.
… and these examples are only a few of the ones I hear about!
Yet companies and the people running them quite obviously think that this is an ACCEPTABLE way to treat their customers. Is it any wonder that 68% of clients will leave a business because they feel the company doesn’t care about them???
… that’s two thirds of the clients you have paid (lots of) good money to gain in the first place, who are actively going elsewhere, seeking your competitors to see if they can get better service for what they want.
One of the first areas I work on with any client is to optimise what they do for existing customers. I get them to look at providing a better service, to actively seek new ways to help them and give them what they want, but most of all I get them to focus on treating them like they MATTER.
This is SO important, especially when things are tough.
Simply by focusing more on your existing clients and reducing the amount who want to leave makes a massive difference to most businesses, and that’s not even including the saving made by NOT trying to attract more prospects who are then also going to be treated to poor service…
It’s not uncommon to see increases in turnover of between 17% and 31% in a fairly short time – sometimes even higher – and that’s without doing anything too difficult. And the best part is that any retention of clients and any increase in what they spend with you is almost ALL profit!
It’s a fact that the better you serve your clients, the more likely they are to spend with you again and the longer they are likely to stay with you. They are also more likely to refer others to you.
But people seem to have forgotten how to be nice and helpful to each other.
You may recall I have mentioned this before, but when I was a lad growing up I clearly remember living I a village where we had small local shops: a Bakery, a Butchers, a Grocery Shop and a Greengrocers.
Every Saturday my mum and I used to walk (remember those days?) to the shops and buy the food for the week. My mum was always pleasantly greeted by name, and always with a smile
“Good morning Mrs. Hunt, what can I get for you today?” was quite typical…
Back then she was treated like a person, but the advent of supermarkets and out-of-town retail parks seems to have dulled even the most basic of manners in people.
I can’t recall ever having been to a supermarket and had any of the staff say good morning without me speaking first. I’ve lost count of the times I have asked staff a question only to be greeted with a ‘why-are-you-bothering-me-I’m-busy’ scowl, and where it seems EVERYTHING is too much trouble to help the customer.
If that’s a ‘sign of progress,’ then quite frankly you can keep it.
I have spent many years globetrotting – for business and pleasure – and I can’t ever remember a time (or country for that matter) where the service and approach to customers has generally been as appalling as it is at the moment here in the UK.
If you don’t believe me, go back and read the examples at the beginning of this post again. I was speaking to a friend of mine this evening and she was recounting some of the problems she has had with poor customer service recently.
Just maybe, if as a nation we were to get back to genuinely helping people – as part of our culture – we would not only fair better in our personal and work lives, but the world we live in might actually seem to be a friendlier place.
If you want a business which will last and beat anything thrown at it, you need to focus on creating clients for life – creating REAL client partnerships. This is about putting your client first, focusing on solving their problems and benefiting from long lasting and profitable relationships.
This isn’t something you look at for a few weeks and then let fall by the wayside. This is something you embrace whole heartedly and weave into the very fabric of your business.
Just remember, don’t drive your clients away, build a mutual relationship with them instead.
If you would like to share any of your personal experiences, observations or the results you’ve achieved using these or similar tips, please leave your comments and/or thoughts below. I always love to hear from you: