Are your customers happy? How do you know? Because they pay the bill and haven’t complained? Do you think there is a level of service you could provide that would take your customer relationship to a new level?
I’ll be honest, there are definitely times when talk of customer service wears me out! My customers are wonderful, I enjoy every moment with them, am delighted when I find a way to serve them even better and find innovative solutions that facilitate their even greater success.
But, when I think about how I can serve the customer better, the first thought is that I need to spend more time, more energy and give more for each dollar received. Then, I realize that there is great potential to deliver more value in innovative ways.
And the most innovative solutions ever discovered, especially in less technical businesses, come from an understanding of the customer’s need more clearly and delivering a service or product that meets their needs, solves their problem and deliver results they never thought were possible.
In a way, it’s the old, “Work smarter not harder.” But, let’s pinpoint the ‘smarter’ work to be purposeful conversations with customers about their needs and expectations. They may never have had the time to spend to get a very accurate and clear picture about what they need from you. They say they need X, you do a good job with X, offer it at a fair price, have built a strong, trusting relationship, so you do business together.
When you want to know if you are doing a good job. You may send a survey or call and ask:
“How are we doing?” The customer says, “Fine.”
You say, “How did we do on the last order?” Customer says, “Good, it went well.”
You say, “Is there anything else we can do to make life easier for you?” Customer says, “I don’t think so, you are all doing a really great job. Thanks!”
You say, “Okay. Please feel free to call if you need anything!” Customer says, “Okay!”
You invite them to golf, talk about the spouse, children and football, and the relationship builds.
There is still valuable information in their head that could take that relationship to the next level. This standard conversation is pleasant, the customer may feel like they are being honest, and you are showing your concern. If there was a problem with the order, this is an opportunity to find out, rectify this situation, and make sure it does not happen again.
What if you asked questions more along the lines of:
“Thank you for your business! On your last order, how did we do on a scale of one to ten?”
“If we could change one thing, anything, even if it seems impossible, about the process, what would you like to see change?” Customer says, “You’re great!” You respond, “Really, I’d love to know, even if it seems impossible.”
“What is a frustration in your business in the area [of your expertise, industry, the area in which you interact with them] that you’d love to see resolved?
Don’t take their time with nicety conversations and surface questions. Spend your time with them wisely. Find out what they really think, desire and would love to see different. Even if it’s impossible now, keep it on your radar and look for the next opportunity to build a relationship based on amazing service, not just a consistent good job.