customer serviceIn the world of business today it has become plain to see that 80% of all sales come from 20% of all customer. It is for this reason that customer service has become the “be all and end all” of any business. Customer retention is therefore the most profitable business strategy.

Unfortunately not all marketing campaigns are designed with customer retention in mind, regardless of how necessary. In the majority advertising is designed to attract new customers, while existing clients are ignored and get left to move on to the next supplier.

Let’s look at two examples:

  1. The online gambling industry, while keen to attract new customers, has acknowledged just how important player retention is – without regular members, these websites cease to exist. The majority of their big promotions are aimed at VIP members and regularly returning players. While new customers are offered incentives to join, it is loyal members that are offered the cream. These websites spend fortunes on existing client promotions and 24/7 customer service, to make sure their very important players return to play, and are nurtured every step of the way.

On the flip side of the coin:

  1. Cellular telephone companies spend fortunes to attract new clients and give so much away that it appears that these incentives are completely insane. Sign a new contract and receive massive incentives, but current customers are rarely rewarded. Who wants free minutes between the hours of 12am and 5am, or a few ebucks that add up to nothing for a normal user? Therefore it makes good sense to sign a new contract with another provider who is offering something special, no matter how fleeting this might be – they can always move on again.

Experts agree that marketing dollars are far better spent on customer retention. This means we should be looking for ‘stickiness’, not new customers who will just go away. In the past ‘stickiness’ came naturally, but now we can drive to any mall, or even shop online, so, rarely stop to shop at the corner grocery store. By the same token, sales personnel are barely trained in customer car and don’t care to know your name. It used to be nice to have Joe from the corner store call you by name and ask how you enjoyed the ham. He kept his customer numbers, and would give you a telephone call to let you know that the new stock of Christmas hams had arrived – this courtesy was to his benefit.

As a result of new trends there are millions if not billions of disloyal shoppers. But with a little will and the help of advanced technology, this can actually change. We now also see superstores giving away loyalty incentives, they have the ability to keep large amounts of data on record and are re-establishing contact with the customer.

Word of mouth advertising is the most effective form of marketing of them all. It does not matter how many prices you slash, a customer won’t return or talk about your store if they don’t feel appreciated. Good customer service is about sending the customer away happy, so, you know they will come back again. It is much harder work to sell the same item to a different customer every time.

Good customer service is like starting a new relationship – one that the customer would like to pursue. Be helpful, train your staff to do the same; be consistent, always answer phones – that’s what “call forward” was invented for, and remember people want to speak to a person, not a machine. Reward customers well for loyalty, be patient when dealing with complaints, listen to what they tell you, only make promises that you can keep, walk the extra mile, throw in something extra for free, and train all your personnel to do exactly the same.

You may feel that it is trite for us to say; but good customer service is simple, it is simply a matter of old fashioned common sense and good manners. At the end of the day you, your product or your business will be judged by the action you take, and not by what you say.