Want ... Cash ... Check Your Customer Service ... E. Hipp, Author, ... ... says: Your store's customer service is the #1 reason people return or do not re
Want Immediate Cash Flow? Then Check Your Customer Service Program
(Karen E. Hipp, Author, Do-It-Yourself Marketing)
Survey says: Your store's customer service is the #1 reason people return or do not return to your business. There it is in black and white. It's not your product or your expertise, it's your business manners. Period.
What a HUGE overlooked selling tool. Yeah, you may pay lip service to it, but 9 out of 10 of my clients think they give great service, until we do a survey. They're shocked. See, the real story is that those who feel they have received less than great services just don't ever come back. And you'll never know that!
Can you believe it? Just today it was officially announced that we've been in a recession since March of 2001. Millions of people figured that out a while ago and quite frankly, have been in a panic mode for several months now. I've been getting calls from my clients asking "What can I do to increase my sales, and I mean NOW, without having to spend a lot of money?!" I tell them to evaluate their customer service program. To which I hear "Program? What program." Fatal mistake #1. You absolutely must have a written and clear customer service plan, particularly if you train new employees. Do you know what the sweetest two words are to any customer? No Problem!
5 To 1
It takes 5 times more effort and money to gain a new customer than it takes to keep one. Now that we are (officially) in a recession, it just makes sense to concentrate on the customers that you already have than to try to get new ones. First you should find out what customers really think of your service.
Conduct a small survey with about 10 questions and give it out or send it out to your customers. Make sure to leave room for them to add their own thoughts and ask for their suggestions. Don't just read these surveys and put them in a drawer. Decide what you can do and start implementing these policies or services immediately. You will be absolutely amazed, even shocked to find what an immediate difference in your sales this can make.
Check Out Your Competition
What are their customer policies and services? I guarantee you that your potential customer already knows. Snoop around. Send other people to snoop around. Test their program, then vow to meet or exceed with your own plan.
One of my client's sales was way off. Their retention rate (or getting a repeat customer) was only 51%. Half the people came back. Half didn't. We surveyed current customers and called those that did not return to find out why. For their time, the store offered them a discount to return and try their services again. Several things came up immediately! It took almost forever for anyone to answer the phone. Calls were not returned promptly. Courtesy services were not provided such as coffee and water while the customer waited for their appointment (believe me, it makes a difference), the store did not appear neat and tidy. Action: A receptionist was immediately hired. Beverage services were free, fresh and always available. I even talked them into adding cookies at the reception area. Great effort was put into removing clutter and a new janitorial service was hired. And this is really just the basics of customer service!
Over the past month, I have had great service at a couple of places that I want to share with you.
While writing my ebook, I was in need of an ebook cover. I had no idea where to go, so I started on the Internet. Most places appeared very expensive and confusing. I eventually hired a company to design the cover, and immediately received a personal note thanking me for buying the services (great start) and that my draft cover would be ready in about 3 days. 7 days went by, no cover, 10 days went by, no cover. Repeated emails were not returned. I had to call my credit card company to try to retrieve my money.
As you can imagine, I was gun shy to try this on the Internet again, but I found a site that I thought looked pretty good and paid my money. These people are wonderful. I received very prompt service and they even went over and above to make changes for me. Never once did I feel as if I was a "burden." If you are looking for an ebook cover or ezine (magazine) cover and more, go to www.3dcovers.com. I guarantee that you will be treated as if you were the king of the world!
My mother recently had knee surgery. She had been to several doctors to check them out and was not having great success. Then she found a doctor that was about 50 miles out of town. She went to see him and felt immediately comfortable. She said she never felt "rushed" and he patiently answered every question. Now this particular doctor is extremely successful and you would think he would give you about 10 minutes at best. Yet he treated her as if she was the only patient he had all day. Needless to say, she made an appointment for the surgery before she left the office.
But wait! There's more! The day before the surgery, a private van came to pick her up at home, even though she lives 50 miles away! You are free to have a guest with you and your guest can stay with you in your private room overnight. Even though this procedure is done in the hospital, you actually get a huge menu to choose your meals from that is prepared specifically for you. My Mom said she felt she died and went to heaven. She didn't want to leave!
Now do you understand why this doctor is so wildly successful? Granted, these services go above the norm, but the money that was spent on these services is reaped a hundred fold in customers (and cold hard cash).
If you want to jump your sales now (and get repeat customers for the future) take a serious look at your customer service. You don't have to spend as much money as the Doc above, but get creative and see what you can do! It's far too competitive out there to just let this slide. And remember:
Survey's show that the #1 reason people return to a store is because of the customer service received.
Karen E. Hipp is a nationally recognized marketing consultant and the author of the ebook "Do-It-Yourself Marketing." Karen has been honored with "Marketing Director of the year in two separate industries and has won 54 Addy Awards. Karen's business, Hipp Marketing, focuses on small to medium sized businesses that need marketing help.