Customers are the live wires of a business. An awareness of this creates in us the consciousness of always asking the question where are my customers are? Or where has my customer gone? Any organization, marketing practitioners or customer service personnel that cannot readily provide answers to the whereabouts of his or her customer does not understand the importance of the customer to a business.

In the words of Ivana Taylor

If we already know that a loyal customer is the most profitable customer and that a referred customer provides our best return on marketing€”then lost customers certainly have more value than stone cold prospects.

My experiences in prospecting for customers, in managing floor sales personnel for multinationals sales companies and in training front office staff shows a vacuum in customers retention strategy for most organizations. Amazingly too, research evidence shows that for any organization that is customer-centric and at the same time pay attention to product quality such will naturally attract customers patronage. However, the challenge for most organizations is their inability to sustain a good relationship with their customer over a period of time.

LEARNING FROM IYA MULIKA

Iya Mulika (Mulikas Mum) was a cooked rice seller somewhere in Lagos Nigeria. On a daily basis, she sold about one and a half bag of cooked rice to customers coming from different parts of the metropolis. However, one common characteristic of Iya Mulika was her noticeable bad attitude toward customers. She is not only overbearing but would often tell customers to their faces not to come near her stand to buy rice. Her calculation was whether you come or not after all the rice would still be sold out at the end of the day.

Truly her rice was the best in the neighborhood, but it wasnt too long that she ran out of business simply because of her negative attitude to customers. She suffered one of worst defection and low patronage that I had witnessed. Today Iya Mulika is no longer in business.

As mundane as the story would sound most customer service people are also cut in the web of improper attention to customer service and often treat the one customer so poorly thinking that one customer does not matter.

Your products may be the best but when you fail to pay attention to what truly matters to the customer, it is only a matter of time that your product or services would experience rejection.

WHAT DOES THE CUSTOMER WANT?

1) Every customer wants to be respected. Whether she is a girl of ten years old or a woman of 50 years of age we all wanted to be treated well and with some level of respect. In every culture, we have acceptable ways of greeting and when this is done with smiles the customer will feel excited and good.

2) A customer wants to be shown a simple courtesy in terms of greeting them appropriately and showing that they are welcome. Connecting personally with the customer offers a compelling reason why they should buy and remain loyal to you.

3) A customer expects to receive the right answers to the queries no matter how foolish you think they sound. A customer wants to engage with someone who can solve their problem and what sounds foolish and unreasonable to you is a pressing need that the customer is willing to pay for giving the right solution.

4) They want value for money. What the customer pays for is value. The totality of your service must add value to the customer. What the customer pays for is not a product but the value that they receive from the product.

5) A customer wants to relate with you on the basis of your ability to make them achieve success. A solution provider is the best friend of todays customer.

6) A customer wants to be heard out and be listened to. Not letting the customer talk is one major pitfall for most customer service practitioners. Every customer wants to express a need, a complaint or give a feedback that will ultimately help your organization. Listening and paying attention to them would promote better relationship and patronage. Someone once said that God gave us two ears and one mouth so that we can listen more and talk less. Learn to listen to the customer, which might be feedback that your organization needs to break through.

7) They want your undivided attention no matter how busy you are. Never be too busy to attend to a customer. Excuse yourself by asking for their permission and always show that you care.

THE CONCEPT OF THE ONE CUSTOMER ORGANIZATION

Unlike Iya Mulika who thought wrongly that the defection of one customer would not affect bottom-line, we should be mindful of the fact that all organizations start with just one customer. To build a fortune 500 business you must be a one customer service organization and should see every customer as an asset.

Imbibing the one customer culture will systematically strengthen an organization customer retention strategy and develop a sense of urgency in front line personnel to quickly resolve queries and develop bonding with the customer.

HOW CAN I DEVELOP A ONE CUSTOMER CULTURE?

Understand that key accounts are sometimes not big at the beginning. The customer that ultimately contributes a chunk of your turnover or profit might not appear so at the beginning but are often nurtured through effective customer service and impeccable relationship management service and service delivery.

Have a well defined customer service philosophy that is communicated and shared by your staff. A written customer service memo placed in strategic point within the business premises and constantly taught to the staff will do the magic.

Keep your current customers happy by delighting them. When customers are delighted and happy about the way they are treated they will surely want to come back.

Promise less and do more than you promised. Once a promise is made to a customer it must be performed no matter how difficult it is. However, in a situation where you couldnt let live up to your promise be sincerely apologetic. Let it be from your heart that you truly care.

Train your employee to treat customers well. Let them know and appreciate the value of treating the customers well.

Make it your priority to quickly resolve customer complaint. Do not allow them to leave without settling the problem and if they left unhappy put a call across, if they refuse your call pay a visit to them with another colleague of yours or a more senior person. It is worth the hassle.

Understands your win-ratio-rate and communicate this to your staff. Let them understand what it cost the organization to win a single customer and what the loss would be if a customer is lost to competition.

HOW CAN I WIN BACK LOST CUSTOMER?

Thank you

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