Posted Thursday, February 10, 2005
One thing all successful small business owners have in common is the knowledge that their business is based on enthusiastic customers. Despite their multi-tasking titles of bookkeeper, service provider and sales-manager, their most important title is Customer-Enthusiasm Guru.
Your question, undoubtedly, is how do I find time in my unbelievably over-loaded schedule to become a customer-enthusiasm guru? Following are a few quick steps you can take to focus on your customer in everything you do:
1. Evaluate your customer base. Who are your best customers and why? What similarities do they share? What are their core needs and how do you solve them? This step is important because every other task relates to your vision of these top customers.
2. Keep the customer in mind. Before initiating new processes ask yourself how it will benefit your ideal customers. Whether you are implementing a new bookkeeping system or hiring help, keep your customer’s needs in mind. Always prepare your customers for any changes so they know what to expect.
3. Create systems that maintain customer contact. Use automated e-mail notes to keep in touch with your customer.
4. Communicate even when you have nothing to sell. This doesn’t mean take up your customer’s limited time to ‘shoot the breeze,’ but it does mean -- take time to recognize your customer. Some easy ways to do this are to send a note of congratulations when your customer is highlighted in the local press, promoted, or reaches an anniversary (either personal or professional). Other non-sales communication ideas include sending an article of interest or offering tickets to sporting event, show or movie that you know would interest your customer.
5. Ask for feedback and follow through. Ask your customers (either through a survey, an e-mail request or by a phone call) how you can continue to serve them -- even better. Then follow-through. When you follow-through and develop ways to serve your customers better based on their input they will be enthusiastic supporters of you and your company!
6. Foster trust. If you don’t know the answer, don’t pretend to. If you can’t provide what they’re looking for, don’t say you can. Introduce your customer to someone who can solve their problem -- and you will have an enthusiastic customer for life.
7. Be consistent. Your customers like knowing what to expect from you and your company. Consistency is as simple as always answering the phone the same way, using the same tag-line in all your promotional materials and most importantly, delivering the same outstanding service and product each and every time your customers hire you.
8. Be easy to work with. Don’t make your customers jump through hoops to get what they need from you and your company. Make it easy for customers to repeatedly buy from you – whether by adding a special on-line scheduling page for repeat customers on your website, or by providing them with a special access number to order your products. If your customers can buy from you again and again without a hassle, they will.
9. Create a customer-enthusiasm training program for anyone who interacts with customers. As you grow, you will hire other people help you with routine tasks, such as scheduling, answering phones, providing services or resending to e-mail. Teach these important team members exactly how you expect them to interact with your customers. Don’t forget that these team members are your customers too – treat them that way.
Provided you take the time and discipline necessary to implement them, these steps will have you on the way to being a customer-enthusiasm guru in no time!
About the Author
Peggie Arvidson-Dailey is the founder of Pet Care Business University and the Pet-Care Business Success System™. She is the author “How to Make Your Customers Crazy…about You” and has been a guest on “This Week in Small Business.” As a trainer and coach she has helped people across the country create and build the pet-care business of their dreams. Visit (http://www.peggiespets.com) for more information. firstname.lastname@example.org