It’s smart to be asking about building up repeat business. After all, its common knowledge that it costs a company more to get in new customers than to keep the ones it has.While there are tricks that businesses can employ, like loyalty cards or campaigns, the bottom line is that those who enjoy dealing with your firm are going to come back for more.
To build up solid relationships with potential buyers youll need to understand what it is that makes them happy – and use that information to increase the frequency of their visits.
TURNING THE CORNER: ASTON VILLA
Fans: Aston Villa FC now takes better care of its fans
British football was once notorious for its lack of attention to
customer service. Fans will always be loyal – so why make the effort?
But rising ticket prices mean that football enthusiasts are now more careful about how
much they spend following their team. Modern fans also have a much wider
range of entertainment choices, putting football clubs in a more
competitive environment. Aston Villa FC is tackling these
challenges by making its small 25 seat contact centre the hub of a
revolution in the way the club communicates with fans.
centre staff are now genuine ambassadors for the club and they
appreciate that even a simple phone call is a connection between a
supporter and their club and that they can make that experience
special,” says Nicola Keye, Aston Villa’s head of consumer sales.
been taking this a stage further. So if we know that a fan has enquired
about tickets for a particular match or about coach travel or a stadium
visit and we have some information that we think would interest them,
we pick up the phone and call. We hope that, for many fans, getting a
call from Aston Villa gives them another positive connection with their
club. Aston Villa is a great example of a business that has looked
forward, recognised that it needed to change, and put customer service
at the heart of its new direction.
An important factor in repeat business is to never take customers for granted.
they buy a product or a service from you, theres no promise they will
return – which is an important aspect of running a
sustainable small business.
Follow the tips below to ensure your service is top notch.What do your customers want?According to Vodafone research, businesses of all sizes say that customers are more demanding than ever.
They’re armed with more
information than they’ve had before. They then communicate and share
that information through rapidly expanding social media communities.
They also have more options, more choice, and their expectations of the
service you provide are rising all the time. As Sue Morris, of Vodafone UK, points out: If there’s one thing that definitely has changed over the
last few years, it’s how much busier people are. Everyone is constantly
People have less time, which means they demand more of your
business when they need to get in touch. What does this mean for the customer service
What are the biggest priorities? In my opinion it’s
three things. In such a fast paced environment, speed and efficiency
are prerequisites, large or small businesses both have to deliver great
service regardless of channel – in person, on the phone or online – and
on every occasion the goal is for customers to come away saying “that
was easy, it worked, and I’m impressed”.How to keep your customers happy: top tips
Vodafone has come up with five areas that small firms can focus on to improve customer service:CUSTOMER SATISFACTION: THE RESEARCH
can always get it right the first time, every time. The key to customer
satisfaction is often the way in which a business responds when things
arent going well, rather than when they are.
fact, this area is so key that when it comes to defining a progressive
company the most important factor, according to YouGov research for Vodafone based on the views of 1,000 staff members and managers, is customer satisfaction.Interestingly,
while employees in progressive companies viewed customer satisfaction
as the most important factor for creating a successful business in the
Vodafone study, those who said they didnt think that they worked for a
forward-thinking company believed their firm rated it as far less
suggests that their attitudes are different – companies that arent
progressive are not focused enough on their customers and more concerned
with internal processes.
1. Stay focused on the basics
A lot of talk today is about ‘connected’ consumers.
large and small businesses are likely to respond with more and more
emphasis on social and digital communication. As research shows,
however, the vast majority of people still want to communicate by phone,
email or in person.
So make sure your customers are always able to contact you on their terms.
most businesses this will mean keeping these core elements as the
bedrock of a progressive multi-channel strategy.
2. It seems obvious, but ask your customers for feedback
Above all customers want their issues resolved satisfactorily. Companies that do this well know their customers inside and out. They
solve problems successfully because they know what both delights and
irritates their customers at every single stage of their journey.
help you achieve this goal, it’s well worth considering investing more
of your time gathering detailed customer feedback. Large businesses can
consider new systems that gather real time feedback via interactions on
mobile phones, for example.
Small businesses can compete by gathering feedback and intelligence via social media. TOP TRICKS
Loyalty ProgramsCustomer loyalty programs can be a gift and a curse. If done correctly they fuel repeat purchases, potentially turning a passerby into a loyal brand advocate.
Stand for somethingA study by the Corporate Executive Board found that of those consumers who said
they had a strong relationship with a brand, 64 percent cited shared
values as the primary reason. If you want loyal customers, you need them
to care about you.
3. Use social media to do more with less
customer service terms, social media is often talked about as a new
channel that will need to be implemented to address new demand. It can
also help you understand what your customers feel about you.
could it also help you drive new efficiencies? Used as part of your
overall service mix, social media has great potential to cut costs
within your customer service operation. For example, by diverting some
people away from your phone lines.
you run a small business you can consider taking this a step further,
using social media to build an in-depth customer service capability that
will help you work around your limited capacity to take calls. 4. Do what you can to break down walls
Great customer service is carried out by individuals who feel like they have full responsibility for resolving issues.
Organisations that do it will also make sure each individual is focused on the customer experience.Equally,
great customer service is characterised by a seamless experience
regardless of whether it’s delivered in a shop, on a PC or on the phone.
Consider how you’re
going to do this better by breaking down the barriers that exist within
your company. Can you do more to help staff share knowledge and insight?
Job shadowing across departments or areas of the business might be a
sure managers spend time on customer service issues is even better.
it one step at a time, and set those expectations
Whether you are
thinking about adding new channels like social media right now, or
simply have them on the to-do list, the key thing to remember is to take
it one step at a time. The social media world in particular is very
accepting of experimentation.
a small start, gather feedback along the way and refine your efforts as
you move forward. And remember, just like your stores or your phone
lines, social media doesn’t necessarily have to be 24/7.
ok to set expectations. Some of the biggest companies in the world
confine their social media customer service to office opening hours. If
that’s the way you prefer it, it’s ok for you to do so too.
Accept responsibility and take ownership After
delving a bit deeper into Vodafones research, it emerges that, for customers, really
excellent service boils down to companies taking
responsibility in the event that something
While collecting information for its report, respondents were asked to rate
the quality of their last experience with a firm.
Out of the people who were delighted, those individuals said they felt the person handling their enquiry cared and accepted responsibility.
Therefore, for successful customer service success:
Above all customer service needs to satisfactorily resolve the issue
In doing so it needs to be highly responsive and minimise the effort the customer needs to put in
It needs to be delivered by staff with the expertise, understanding and authority to resolve the issue satisfactorily
It needs to take full, un-qualified ownership of the issue: avoiding passing customers from pillar to post. Poor customer service: the real damage Vodafone research has also revealed just how devastating poor performance can be on a business:
service means you lose customers – 85 per cent say they actively avoid
companies they’ve had a poor customer service experience with
service leads to lost revenue – 80 per cent spend more with companies
that they’ve had a good customer service experience with
service also means you miss opportunities – 62 per cent actively avoid
companies which friends have told them offer poor customer service (and
with 76 per cent of those receiving sub-standard service telling at least one
other person, this means most of us have a pretty long black list)
The impact of poor service on the bottom line is significant.
According to Ovum, The Cost
of Poor Customer Service: The Economic Impact of the Customer
Experience 2009, all told, it’s estimated that UK companies lose £15.3
billion annually as a direct result.SPEND TIME MAKING YOUR EXISTING CUSTOMERS FEEL SPECIAL
of the most common mistakes small-business owners make is to focus so
much time on attracting new customers that they scrimp on the effort it
takes to create loyal customers.
The boss: John Fox
Liberty SIPP managing director John Fox works believes making customers feel special is an important part of good customer service.He explains: Good customer service is
the bedrock of all successful companies. If you offer it, customers stay
with you and, crucially, recommend you to their friends, family and
colleagues. This, in turn, creates new customers.Its
often the little things that matter more to customers than the big
things. For example, one of our staff once sang Happy Birthday down the
phone to a customers young daughter. Little things like that can really
make a big impact. People remember them and a bond is created that can
last many years.Another member of staff, Helen, once received an envelope addressed to “Helen
Harrison Pretty Perfect Pension Person” after she had spent a long time
on the phone explaining to a client how his pension payments could work.
SIPPs 4000th customer was recently sent a large bouquet of flowers,
which she – and her financial adviser – both appreciated.In
the financial services world, weve found that good customer service
goes hand in hand with personal customer service. People like to know
that they can speak to someone at any time, and not just any person but
someone who knows all about their situation.Give back
Rewarding customers doesnt have to be expensive – even very small gestures will be appreciated.
Plus, research shows that when these gestures come as a surprise, they are even more powerful.Remember a time that someone did something nice for you unexpectedly; the act probably wasn’t all that unusual, but the fact that it came out
of nowhere left a bigger impact.Make it personalIn
a study from the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, researchers
found that waiters could increase their tips by 23 percent by the simple
act of returning to tables with a second set of mints.The personalized service received made them enjoy their experience so much more.