Know who your best customers are and focus your efforts on retaining them by providing them with a level of service that your competition simply cannot match.
Have you felt it? That discomfort in the pit of your stomach that crops up when you think about how best to retain your customers? The sales and marketing strategies your team implements each day can be costly, and if they don’t yield results, you may have no idea why or what to do. It’s not a good position to be in, as your stomach well knows.
Meanwhile, as you spend time worrying about what’s working and not working, you’ll be happy to know there’s an often overlooked, affordable, measurable, and easy-to-implement strategy sitting right under your nose in the customer service department. All that’s required is a simple paradigm shift in how you handle your customers.
How to Deliver What’s Most Important to Your Best Customers? Knowing is 90% of the Battle
Any good level of customer service starts with knowing what your customers want and then giving it to them. What’s interesting is, although we all think we know what our customers want, far too many businesses really do not. Why? Because, typically, we don’t ask.
In addition to knowing what your customers really want, it is also imperative you know who your best customers are—the ones generating the most profits for you. Knowing this, you can truly focus your efforts on retaining these particular customers by providing them with a level of service that your competition simply cannot match.
Dr. Jeanne Hurlbert, a consultant in the wholesale distribution space and an expert in customer service, created the phrase, Concierge Customer Service™, which describes well how your most profitable customers should be treated if you’d like them to continue working with you.
Providing this optimal level of customer service is a fairly new concept in the distribution industry, but it is effective enough that Dr. Hurlbert has put together a soup-to-nuts ready-made program for distributors to put in place so they can 1) gauge customer satisfaction, 2) deliver the appropriate level of service to every customer, and 3) through measuring customer satisfaction, create marketing collateral such as testimonials and case studies to help attract more customers.
How A Program Like This Works
Implementation of the program occurs in two simple steps:
- Get the Facts
Start by collecting survey data that will shine a light on what truly is keeping your customers awake at night. You’ll also learn how satisfied they are with your service and what you can do better. This information is very powerful because, when you know your customers’ most urgent pain points you’ll be able to address them sooner and better than your competition does.
- Put the Data to Work for You
Using the survey data as your guide, customize a multi-tier customer service system for your business. Key elements could include perks such as having a dedicated representative handle your top customers, priority call on inventory, and expedited quotes in addition to other top-level treatment. You can also use this top level of service as an incentive for less-profitable customers to meet the criteria to enter your top-level program.
Your ultimate goal with a program such as this is to tie your best customers to you so strongly, that no competitor can wrest them away. This is done by developing services that your competitors cannot match and delivering it to the customers who matter most.
How This Benefits Your Bottom Line
According to Dr. Hurlbert, the benefits of implementing a program like the Concierge Customer Service™ program come down to the acronym CPR, which represents: Conversion of more sales; Penetration of your market; and Retention of your best customers. Here’s how she explains those benefits in an excerpt from her book, You Can’t Serve Them Well If You Don’t Know Them Well:
“Conversion benefits derive when you draw from your competitors the customers who resemble closely your most profitable customers. Why can you do that? Because this exceptional level of service, a level your competitors cannot afford to match, becomes a potent tool for your sales team, who can now offer solid, rational reasons for doing business with you.
Penetration of your market increases as the benefits of your Concierge Customer Service™ system become apparent to other customers—in particular your marginal accounts. Once those accounts see the advantages your top-tier customers gain, the marginal accounts will want access to those benefits. That gives you the opportunity to show less profitable customers what actions to take to secure the higher-level service. Those actions, of course, are the actions that will make those accounts profitable for you.
Retention benefits emerge particularly among your most profitable customers, who are the only customers who receive true Concierge Customer Service™. You achieve those benefits in three ways:
First, you provide your most profitable customers with a level of service that your competitors can’t, making it impossible for those competitors to steal your most profitable customers away from you. The retention benefits will actually extend beyond your top-tier customers, because the mindset of Concierge Customer Service™ will “trickle down” through your organization to change its very culture, and because this system will provide feedback from customers at all levels of profitability, you will glean retention benefits across the board. That means you can retain more of the customers whom you want to keep.
Second, by implementing the Concierge Customer Service™ system, you ensure exceptional levels of customer satisfaction and loyalty throughout your organization because you constantly garner customer input.
Third, this system will increase the frequency and the quality of communication between your operating team and your customers’ operating teams, building rapport, increasing loyalty, and engendering a feeling of true partnership between you and your customer.”
While the focus of the program is on your most profitable customers, it doesn’t mean your less profitable customers are left with low-quality service. They’ll still be treated well; they simply will not receive the highest-level perks.
By developing a survey system that keeps your finger on the pulse of customer sentiment, you can spot problem areas before they become so serious that customers are driven away. At the same time, you’ll have the information you need to build on the levels of customer service that will not only help you retain key accounts, but also attract more customers like them.Tagged with best practices, customer service, marketing