In the best − and in the worst − of economic times, whether you manage a small family-owned business or a multinational conglomerate, there is one axiom that withstands the test of time: Customer satisfaction comes first. It is of no surprise, therefore, that managing customer relationships has become a basic tenet in today's global market. No matter the size of your operation, taking care of your customers and knowing what they want and how to provide it are the key to securing consumer satisfaction and loyalty.
But how do you handle customers when things go wrong? And just as important: When consumer expectations are sky-high and demand for service and delivery are NOW, what can you do to transform your toughest clients into major marketing success stories?
Start with CRM
A good place to start is investing in a customer relationship management (CRM) system. Contemporary CRM strategies include the many different ways companies handle customer interactions – such as tracking customers' purchasing preferences, creating detailed customer profiles based on their buying habits, offering reward programs and discount incentives, making sure customer information is current, accessible and available to all team members, and more. Not only have CRM systems proven to be effective in securing long-term relationships with existing consumers, but they are effectual in acquiring new customers as well.
The bottom line is that the more you know about your customers, the better you can service them, manage those relationships, and enjoy the fruits of your labor in the form of additional sales and good news about your business being spread to your customers' family members and friends.
Customer Satisfaction Guaranteed: How to Get Ahead of the Pack
Yet with every other business implementing their own wholesale CRM strategies, how can you stand out from the crowd and ensure that consumer traffic heads your way? Moreover, how do you handle relationships in which customers are non-appreciative and difficult to serve?
To stay on the fast track to consumer loyalty, follow these simple but strategic tips on managing even the toughest and hardest-to-sell-to customers:
- Details matter! When it comes to making a good impression, even the smallest of factors can make a difference in luring clients away from your competitors. So be sure to sweat the small stuff and pay attention to detail.
- Continue to perfect and upgrade your product or service.
- Ensure that your product or service adds value or solves a problem which is important to your target market.
- Know where to find your target audience (i.e. online or offline, social media sites, etc.) and be sure you are there to greet them and pull them in with a link to your product, a cutting-edge sales presentation, or creative sales pitch.
- Don't let your sales go stale: Once you have secured a purchase, follow up with a thank-you email including a link to your website, a newsletter featuring your latest products, or present a business card or a free promotional sticker or pen.
- Use surveys and questionnaires to ask for customer feedback; consumers love to be heard, so let them know that their opinion matters to you.
- Invest in a recommended CRM management course.
- Politely address even the most unpleasant customers; everyone loves to feel valued and respected, so be sure your interaction with them sets you apart and is the one they will remember at the end of the day.
- Contrary to the popular adage, the customer is not always right; business owners can always expect conflict. Be prepared to respond to customer rants by staying cool, calm and collected and by resisting the urge to argue, point a finger, or prove yourself right. According to the experts, learning to manage conflict is a sure-fire recipe to building customer trust and loyalty.
- Take the high road and look for some positive quality in your customer's negative behavior; by turning vice into virtue you can turn your biggest critics into your most enthusiastic fans.