CUSTOMER SERVICE • November 24, 2014
2 minutes Read
By Gene Marks
Small business influencer Gene Marks is a guest blogger for CAN Capital. He is a celebrated author, columnist and small business owner.
How do I know when my customers are happy? It’s simple: they pay. When a customer pays it usually means they’re satisfied with our service, or the products we sell. But, of course, we need to do more. So we do. Let me share a few other things we do to keep our customers happy, in addition to doing good work for them.
We give stuff away. For my company it’s chocolates. Who doesn’t like chocolates? Every month I have a reminder in my calendar to send one customer a box of chocolates with a card that says thank you for being our customer. I do this randomly. It costs about $35 every month. And each time, I get an email or a call saying, “thanks.” People don’t do this enough. A simple box of chocolates. A fruit basket. A card. Every month. Each time to a different customer.
We stay in touch. Every customer in our database is flagged for follow-ups. We have an alert configured in our customer relationship management (CRM) database to let me know if any customer has not received a phone call or visit from someone in my company in the past four months. We have a monthly newsletter with advice and information to help our customers. We make it a point to “touch” everyone at least once or twice a quarter so they know we’re here and we want to help.
We respond immediately. Customers, like everyone else on this planet, hate to be ignored. We make it a requirement that when a customer asks a question, sends an email or calls us, we respond immediately. Even if we don’t have the time to fully answer his or her question, we at least acknowledge it and give the customer a time frame when we will get back. I share my cell phone, email and Skype ID with all of our customers. So does everyone else in my company.
We are available all the time. A business owner once told me that she turns off her cell phone after 6 p.m. I get this – it’s important to have balance. But, sadly, in 2015 there is no turning off a cell phone, no away message, no out of the office response. We live in a 365/24/7 world and our customers expect that. We sell to companies in different time zones. We have customers of all ages and personality types. Some of our customers work in the middle of the night, others on Sundays. And to succeed today you have to be available. That is why we have smartphones. That is why we have alerts in our CRM system. To that business owner who turns off her cell phone after 6 p.m., my advice is to hire an assistant to be available in the hours when she’s not, if only to acknowledge a request or schedule a time to fix a problem. If a customer can’t reach you quickly, you’re going to lose that customer.
We sell for them. Customers love it when you sell their services. Just like you love it when others recommend you. We do this a lot. When I visit companies, of course I’m looking to sell our technology services. But I try to keep my ears open for other needs, particularly things we don’t do. We have over 600 active customers who do 600 different things, from plumbing to landscaping to accounting to surveying to selling plastic products and corrugated containers. If I see a chance to recommend a customer to another customer, I jump on it. Everyone is happy. And that happiness ultimately reflects on my company, too.
Did I mention the most important thing? Just doing what you say you’re going to do and delivering your products and services on time and charging a fair price. Nothing means more.
Photo credit: ScandanavianStock/shutterstock.com
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