Treat Customers Like Life-Long Partners

John Tschohl Headshot
Customer Service

Over the years I have had some real “wow” experiences with businesses. People and employees that have treated me like a VIP every single time I have come in contact with them. Sad to say, the opposite is also true.

It seems that every time I have a great experience, there are numerous bad ones that make me wonder why some companies are still in business. Why anyone would ever consider going back to make another purchase. No courtesy, no warmth, no one cares, no speed, no follow-up and no respect.

My book, "Achieving Excellence Through Customer Service" focuses on customers and your relationship. It’s a blueprint for a quality service program that increases profit by developing customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Why is loyalty so important? According to global management consulting firm Bain and Co., repeat customers spend 67% more than new customers. This is due to both larger transactions and more frequent shopping. Even a 5% increase in retention can lead to a rise in profits of as much as 25-100%. You need to ensure that you continuously offer value to your customers to keep them coming back for more.

Here are my 5 “Great Truths” about quality service:

1. Treat customers like life-long partners. Do it by listening to customers’ expressions of needs and wants. Then help them obtain the service or product that serves those needs and wants best whether they’re in your inventory or not. This is the proper procedure when you expect customers to return again and again over a long period.

2. Do not disappoint or anger customers. Dealing with people is probably the biggest problem you face, especially if you are in business.

3. See the business through customer eyes. Call it “empathy.” At T.G.I. Friday restaurants, a chain of bistro type corporation familiarizes employees with customer perceptions with reports from mystery shoppers who routinely check out store image, merchandise and service from the customer point of view. Empathy is an important ingredient in the service business. How one handles a service problem is as important to customers as the solution of the problem itself.

4. Deliver more service than you promise or than customers expect. This is a wonderful way to build customer loyalty upon their feeling that they got a “good deal.” Practice the “and then some” principle. Your products do all you say they will . . . and then some. Service is prompt, reliable and courteous... and then some. If a customer needs help once a sale is complete, help the customer . . . and then some. Delivering more service than customers expect is a subtle competitive tactic that competitors usually do not notice. In the process of building volume you can confuse your competitors. They will not understand how you are doing it.

5. Try to get better. Imagine a mental fluorescent sign that flashes the questions: “How are we doing?” (Fine, but we can improve.) And: “How can we get better?” (Apply the answers as if they were an action agenda.)

The newsletter Quality Assurance Report states that only when a company knows exactly what kind of service its customers expect, delivers on those expectations 100% of the time, at a price that customers are willing to pay, while still getting an acceptable return, can the company claim to excel in customer service.

John Tschohl is a professional speaker, trainer, and consultant. He is the president and founder of Service Quality Institute (the global leader in customer service) with operations in over 40 countries. John is a self-made millionaire traveling and speaking more than 50 times each year. He is considered to be one of the foremost authorities on service strategy, success, empowerment and customer service in the world. John’s monthly strategic newsletter is available online at no charge. He can also be reached on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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