Fostering customer-focused innovation

Is your business customer focused? Customers buy from businesses with which they enjoy interacting. Successful businesses continually look for ways to stay in touch with their customers and to improve their customer relations. There are various ways to do this. Business owners and managers must talk regularly with employees who are in contact with customers on a daily basis. Customer service representatives have first-hand knowledge of your business’s customer service issues. They also know how and what your customers are thinking. Be sure to listen to your employees when it comes to making customer service improvements in your organization.

woman and man in music storeDoes your business make it easy for customers to complain? The days of putting a complaint box by the door are long gone. Research shows that more than 90 percent of customers who stop buying from a business will never tell the business why they stopped. Customer-focused businesses are proactive and seek answers from their customers. Successful businesses gather information directly from their customers by using periodic surveys, focus groups and informal conversations with customers. Company websites and social media can be an excellent tool for gathering customer information. It is critical that businesses use this captured information to look for trends. Does this information show a change in customer needs? If so, act quickly to find ways to meet your customers’ needs. Studies also show that 95 percent of dissatisfied customers will become loyal customers if their complaints are resolved and handled rapidly. Customer-focused businesses apply creative strategies to customer problems and deal with them promptly and decisively.

Customer-focused businesses develop strategies to “WOW” the customer. Wowing is nothing more than exceeding your customers’ expectations. Wowing the customer can sometimes be as easy as following up with a phone call or email to make sure that a customer service issue has been satisfactorily resolved. However, “wowing” your customer in some instances may be much more involved. In some cases someone from the organization will take a personal interest in the customer service issue to ensure that the problem is understood and the appropriate solution has been developed to prevent the problem from reoccurring. Some organizations teach employees how to listen for customers’ personality styles and adapt replies accordingly. This provides personalized help and demonstrates to the customer that the problem was an anomaly and not the business’s standard mode of operation.

Losing customers as a result of a customer service issue is expensive. A basic customer service rule is that it is five times more expensive to attract a new customer than it is to keep an existing customer.

Customer-focused organizations recognize and reward their employees for ideas resulting in improved customer retention. Similarly, businesses that create satisfied customers tend to have more satisfied employees, improving employee retention. Can your business improve its bottom line by becoming more customer-focused?

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