Monday, August 17, 2009

The Value of Customer Service

At the end of the day, your product may be outstanding and you may provide terrific value, but, let's face it, times are tough for small businesses. People are spending less today. Many businesses have limited funds available to maintain or increase sales. What, then, is a business to do? The answer lies with your most important resource: your customers.

It all boils down to customer satisfaction and customer loyalty. Maintaining your customer base is vital. Therefore, it's important to know what the customer is thinking. Businesses have to establish methods to listen to their customers and, no less important, to respond. Customer feedback should be viewed as a gift to your business.

Far too many businesses have become unreachable, preferring to communicate with their customers via text messages or e-mails. They have forgotten the importance of the personal touch. When was the last time you initiated telephone contact with a long standing customer to see why they have reduced their orders? One telephone call may be a terrific investment. You may discover that the customer has new needs or has been upset by a small matter that you were unaware of. Informal surveys can provide a wealth of information to help strengthen your business.

Business owners should not fear confrontation with the "disgruntled customer" as opening a Pandora's Box. Studies have shown that most disgruntled customers will not voice their opinion but will simply take their business elsewhere. Only 4% of disgruntled customers have mere complaints. Most have legitimate issues. The same studies have concluded that a 5% increase in customer loyalty can have a direct positive long term increase on a company's bottom line by anywhere from 25% - 125%.

The business owner who invests time in customer service is making a wise investment in these difficult financial times.

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