Are Customers Always Right…Yes!

May 24, 2016

It's difficult for many business owners to admit, but customers are always right...whether they are or not. While large businesses can better sustain unhappy customers who choose not to return, small businesses must rely heavily on repeat customers and word-of-mouth marketing to grow and succeed. 

The following principles should be practiced consistently to achieve long-term customer satisfaction:

All About Customer Service

Customers not only want value for the money they spend with a business, but also want to feel valued. When businesses have a passion and commitment to customer service, this lets customers know they are valued. While many businesses only concentrate on sales, the business that excels in customer service will eventually excel in sales, as well.

Establish Firm Customer Policies

It is not enough to simply place emphasis on customer service. Firm customer policies should be established and written. These should be discussed with new employees and periodically reviewed with all employees to reinforce the business' commitment to customers. Successful companies often utilize the "creative license" concept that gives employees the authorization to do whatever is necessary within reason to satisfy a customer.

Outperform the Competition

When businesses have comparable products and services, one way to gain loyalty and attract new business is to outperform competitors. This can be offering products and services that are slightly different, have better value, come with extended warranties, have personalized service, etc. A key factor to success is to understand how to outperform the competition one way or another.

Measure Customer Satisfaction

It is not enough for a business to simply stress customer service and ultimate customer satisfaction. Satisfaction should be measured with feedback based on reviews, surveys, and repeat business. Employees who demonstrate the business' commitment to customer service should be rewarded based on performance to customer excellence and responses from customers.

Inform Employees

Information obtained from customers, feedback, and observations should be shared with all employees. When relevant information is shared, employees become more engaged and committed. This helps drive the philosophy of "customers first."

Know What Customers Want 

Certainly, customers want products and services a business has to offer, but they also want attention from employees, know they can depend on the company for its products and services, appreciate follow-up after a sale, and seek prompt action when needed.

Say It Right

Responses to customers can be positive or negative. It's all in the wording and tone. Stress positive responses with employees and positive actions are likely to follow from customers. Know what to say and how to say it such as:

•    What questions can I answer for you?
•    We can solve your problem.
•    How can I assist you?
•    I don't know the answer, but I'll certainly find out and get back to you.
•    How would you like us to stay in touch with you?
•    I'll follow-up on your order and let you know the status.
•    We appreciate and value your business!

Stay Connected

Customers love being informed about orders and new offerings of products and services. It is easier than ever to stay connected with customers via emails, text messages, phone calls, or even short, hand-written notes...the more personal, the better. And for the really special customers, remembering them on a special occasion is especially meaningful.

Immediate Action to Complaints

Complaints are always going to happen in any business. It's inevitable that every customer will not be satisfied all the time. When this does occur, it's important to handle the situation properly so a dissatisfied customer is turned into a satisfied customer by doing the following:

•    Handle complaints immediately
•    Listen first, then speak
•    Don't argue...remember the customer is right
•    Be positive and polite
•    Accept responsibility on behalf of the business
•    Give employees a "creative license" to make the situation "right"