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How to Keep Customers


Who was it that said - "The customer is always right"? Wellfor those of you who can't get through the day withoutknowing, it was H Gordon Selfridge, the founder ofSelfridges's department store in London.

The question I want answered is; did he ever work withcustomers on day-to-day basis and if so, was he some kind ofsaint?

Let's face it; customers can be a real pain in the neck. Youmove heaven and earth for them, you respond to their everywhim, you give them time to pay and they still try to screwyour prices down.

Just when you've done all that, they leave you and startbuying from one of your competitors.

Wouldn't running a business be a whole lot better if wedidn't have customers? Well, as we know only too well, we doneed customers and lots of them. We want them to stay withus and we want them to say nice things about us to otherpeople.

We also want them to pay us on time and accept the fact thatwe might be a bit more expensive than others.

So how do we perform this miracle? It's dead easy really;you only have to consider two factors: be reliable and belikeable. First off, let's consider what we mean by beingreliable.

Reliability is about your product or service doing what yousay it will do. It comes in two parts, the first part being:doing it right first time and doing it on time.If you can't get this bit right then you're going to havebig problems. Customers will accept the occasional mistake,but too many and you've had it, so let's look a bit closerat reliability.

We've come a long way in recent years in terms of productand core service reliability. Nowadays when people buy aproduct or service they expect it to work. You don't buy acomputer, a washing machine or an automobile and worry thatit might not work. You know that it will. You also know thatif it didn't, it would be replaced without quibble.The only thing is, that if you deliver this type ofreliability in your business then don't expect any browniepoints from your customers, they merely take it for granted.Where you are more likely to slip up in the reliabilitystakes (and this is the second part) is in what some peoplestill regard as minor issues:

*Failing to phone back when we said we would;

*Failing to deliver when we said we would;

*Failing to send information when we said we would;

*Failing to include something extra when we said we would.

The ironic thing is that some customers often regard thesefailures as quite normal. However, these people won't staywith you, they don't say nice things about you to otherpeople and they'll complain about your prices.

If you say you'll phone a customer back by 5pm then phonebefore 4pm not the following day. If you say someone willcall between 9am and 12noon, then do everything you can toensure that someone calls closer to nine than 12. Don'tthink for a minute that calling at 11.55 impresses thecustomer because it doesn't. So let's just repeat it so there's no misunderstanding lateron: firstly your product or service has got to be reliable,secondly, everything you say to the customer has to bereliable.

However, I believe that more than anything you, your productor service and your people have to be likeable.

Too many organisations forget that their customers arehumans and the thing about humans is that they don't alwaysmake decisions logically. You may have a reliable product orservice, reliable delivery time and competitive prices. Butit's not enough.

Customers are driven by their emotions and it helps a heckof a lot if they like you and feel good about your businessand your people.

"Our customers do like us," I hear you say, "except maybethe difficult ones, the awkward people, the ones who arenever happy, the miserable devils - need I go on?Have you ever heard the saying "you only get the customersyou deserve"?

Run your eye down the following list and see how many youcan tick off.

*We always have a genuine smile for every customer.

*We are warm and friendly to all customers.

*We listen carefully and make it obvious that we arelistening.

*We use the customers name and our name appropriately.

*We give the impression that we care.

*We empathise with problems or complaints and respondquickly.

*We occasionally do something to pleasantly surprise thecustomer.

*We always keep our promises.

*We give the impression that we are fun to deal with.

*We treat the customer the way they want to be treated, notthe way we want to be treated.

How well did you do? If you've got a lot of ticks then youprobably have lots of customers who like you.Just a word to the managers and employers amongst you. Runyour eyes down that list again and replace the word"customer" with the words "employee" or "staff colleague."How many ticks did you get this time? Lots of ticks meanyour staff like you and it probably follows that yourcustomers do as well.

Have you noticed how being likeable costs so little? A lotless than advertising or other promotional activity requiredto replace lost customers.

Maybe the customer isn't always right, but if you want tokeep them, make sure they like you.

Discover how you can generate more business without havingto cold call!Alan Fairweather is the author of "How to get More Saleswithout Selling" This book is packed with practical thingsthat you can do to - get customers to come to you . Click here nowhttp://www.howtogetmoresales.com/Without%20Selling.htm


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