Contracts aside, customers can sever their relationship with you at any time and go elsewhere. Presumably they keep doing business with you because they want to, because you are giving them something different, something special, something reliable and something they can’t quite get anywhere else. But how do you ensure that this is what you are offering?
There are a few tried and tested rules that will ensure your customers keep considering you as a a trusted provider. Above all, the key is communication and communication that is clear and timely. One of the most common gripes from unsatisfied customers is a lack of clarity from their service provider, resulting in unwelcome surprises and thwarted expectations. Always being crystal clear with your customers about what you can and will deliver is paramount. With this as your baseline, here are five other strategies to improve your customer service and engagement.
- Responsiveness – while it’s not always possible to satisfy a client request immediately, it is vital that at the very least the communication is acknowledged, with information about when the request will be actioned.
- Transparency and honesty – we’re all human and, generally, customers understand that sometimes we will make all too human errors. So even when processes have obviously broken down or someone has made an obvious mistake, being honest about it is always better than lying or trying to shift blame. Trust is the most fundamental aspect of a successful relationship and lies damage trust, often irrevocably.
- Keeping customers up-to-date – this relates to that baseline communication, in that if customers are always kept apprised of the latest developments they can relax. If they know they don’t have to chase you, but can rely on you keeping them informed of every important step along the way, that is one more thing they don’t need to worry about. And one more reason for them to keep doing business with you.
- Under promising and over delivering – this is only tricky in that if you under promise too much, there will be no enticement for a customer to begin a relationship with you in the first place. The sweet spot is being conservative enough regarding what you will deliver and when, that when you significantly exceed expectations delighted customers are the result. And if a promised deadline can’t be met, let the client know as soon as possible.
- Consistency – long-term relationships are built on trust and familiarity, with culture and processes well understood on both sides.
The very nature of business means that whatever line you’re in, there will always be competitors with a similar offering to yours, who are looking to increase their customer base by decreasing yours. Following these simple strategies will improve your customer service and ensure your customers remain engaged and committed to the relationship they have with your organisation.