There’s a lot to be said for going the extra mile to keep customers happy and eager to return for additional products and services. The problem is, if you focus too much on the customers and not enough on business, you’re making what can be a costly error.
On the reverse side, if your focus is so keyed to marketing your business that customer concerns and satisfaction aren’t a priority, it won’t matter how strategic your business plan is—if there aren’t any customers, there is no business to plan for.
Finding the Balance Between Customer Satisfaction and Business Focus
The desire to please every customer is admirable, but you must set a limit on how far to go and when it’s time to say no. The following can help get you started.
· Strategy – As you develop your plan of action, determine and refine your approach based on what your business offers. Don’t attempt to cover every possible angle. Keep it focused. This is where saying no is important—because your marketing plan should be focused on your target market, not trying to create a product/service to please every situation. When you take that road, you run the risk of diluting the very essence of what your business is supposed to encompass. Not only will you run yourself ragged trying to fit the bill for every situation, it can also call your credibility into play for new customers. Trying to “do it all” may make potential customers feel they’ll be receiving lower quality service because your company is spread too thin.
· Extreme Service – Going the extra mile for a new or well-established customer is a generous gift of your time and potential income. If you have a customer that finds fault, nitpicks the project, or who is dissatisfied no matter what you do, providing “off the clock” work to appease and retain their business is not cost effective, nor part of your business plan. This type of person is not really a customer you’ll want to retain, and to avoid any additional losses, say no to extra work free of charge.
Retaining Loyal Customers and Remain Focused
While letting go of people who end up draining your time, labor, and money, the opposite applies to those people who you consider loyal customers. There is a distinct difference between a one-time buyer and a repeat customer. Both are important, and the hope is to turn the one-time buyer into an ongoing client. This won’t be possible every time, but that’s okay.
The repeat customer is different, and while both types should receive the best service possible, the loyal customer deserves a little extra due to the long-standing relationship with your company.
Reasons for Customer Service Dissatisfaction
There are any number of reasons why a customer becomes displeased with your business. Here are a few examples.
· A negative review at the Better Business Bureau
· Price ended up being more than the estimate
· Use of inferior materials
· Product or service has issues too soon after purchase or installation
· Incompetent service
· Unfriendly and unhelpful attitude from the people within your company
· Not completing a service in a timely manner
Overcoming Customer Dissatisfaction While Staying Focused on Business
When a situation arises with a displeased customer, it would be easy to fall back into “yes” mode. This, of course, goes against the strategy you’ve outlined as your business focus. The following tips can help retain an unhappy customer while staying true to your business plan.
· Acknowledge any mistakes or product failure your business is responsible for and fix it. This is one of those defining moments where you may consider providing a little extra, such as a small discount, or discount on the next service, to appease the customer. By acknowledging an error on your part or part of your staff, it shows respect for the customer. This only adds to the level of trust they have for your business.
· Your business is only as good as the people that work with you. As part of your business focus, ensure each employee feels appreciated and has the training they need to do a good job. Whether in the office or in the field, your employees are the face of your business. If they’re projecting negativity, in any way, your customers will pick up on it and move on to your competition.
· If you’re seeing a trend in repeat problems, tackle them by having an immediate solution ready so that a small problem won’t turn into something much larger. Target known areas and be prepared. This keeps customers happy and your business focused. At the end of the day, you need to balance your strategic plan with a level of customer service that keeps your business moving forward.