Tag Archives: Customer Service

3 steps for sustainable business growth

Every business worth its salt is very concerned about growth. Unfortunately specifically SME’s cant pay the big bucks required to afford world-class sales staff. Good news: you don’t have to, if you already have existing customers. You just have to follow up with them, and grow your business through referrals.

When people think about sales, they think about new prospects, referrals, new leads, marketing etc. Too often one of the most likely potential leads is forgotten: your existing customers. Existing customers have already bought from you. They are already familiar with your sales process, your products and services. And they had been convinced enough to sign on the dotted line and give you the order. Hence your barrier to sell additional products to them is significantly lower than selling to new prospects. Why not just go back to you existing customer base and sell to them?

Unless you have a very unique one-time use only product (like an undertaker) you will most likely be able to continuously sell products to an existing customer. For example, if you sell dog food, you can be assured that every single customer who bought dog food from you before will have to buy dog food again. Why not make a real effort to stay in touch with those customers, update them about promotions, give them the equivalent of frequent flier miles, special deals, etc.? You already know that they need dog food, all you have to do is to make sure they buy it from you instead of the competition.

If you sell websites or any other IT solutions, try to find a way to provide ongoing maintenance. This way you not only have continuous revenue, but you are also always up-to-date on potential changing requirements of your existing customers, and you can provide additional solutions as and when required. And because you have a better knowledge of the customer as a new entrant, you should be able to continuously sell into your existing customer base.

The same is true for almost any other business. Customers will continue to buy TV’s, phones, DVD’s. Even if you have a hardware shop, you will have repeat customers.

No matter what your business is, it pays huge dividends to simply stay in touch with your existing customers. Follow up with them: are they happy? Do they need anything else that you might be able to provide? Do they know of anyone else that could use your product / service?

The solution to building a sustainable, growing business is simple:

  1. Have a great product / service.
  2. Ensure you have a satisfied customer.
  3. Follow up with that customer to get additional business and referrals for new customers.

Most businesses stop at point 2. Sadly, many businesses even stop at point 1: they have a great product or service, but they fail to follow through with the customer until the customer is 100% satisfied. Really happy customers are your best sales people, and make the easiest prospects for follow-up sales. All you need to do is to continuously follow up with your existing customers, and don’t just ignore them once the initial sale is over.

Customer Service and Feedback Forms

Every company should strive to get feedback from his customers. Listening to your customers about your service or your product is invaluable to improving your business. However, a famous local coffee shop chain has put forward a very good example on how NOT TO do it.

We shall not name the coffee shop. Suffice to say that it is one of the large local coffee shop chains that has been around for a while. Currently they run a promotion – a “Service Excellence Campaign”: Provide feedback about your coffee shop experience and get a free white coffee. Sound great – doesn’t’ it? Everybody loves to give feedback, specifically if the experience has been less than pleasant.

If we are not satisfied with our customer experience, there are 2 options:

  • We don’t say anything and just never come back. The business lost a customer and will never know why. OR
  • We complain about our experience to the manager. Now the business has a chance to rectify the situation, to improve, and to potentially even win the customer back

Hence we should reward customers that provide feedback, as this allows us to know our shortfalls and improve our business.  And a free white coffee sounds great.

Now this is where the problem is: In order to get your free coffee, you have to fill out the feedback form and provide your details, such as name, e-mail and telephone number. You then pass this information to the manager of the specific store. Apparently (based on the terms and conditions indicated on the feedback form) you will then receive an e-voucher for your white coffee.

However: this voucher for the “free” white coffee is

–       only valid in the store that you provided the feedback for

–       only valid for one month

–       and can only  be redeemed with a minimum purchase (excluding drinking water!).

Now why in the world would I tell the manager that I had a bad customer experience, give him my explicit contact details, then wait for an e-mail with a voucher, be forced to go back to the same store and spend some more money, just so that I can get a free coffee?

In my opinion, this just doesn’t make any sense.

Hence I didn’t even bother to provide any feedback at all.  In this instance it would have been much better for this specific kopi tiam place to just provide an anonymous feedback form without the free drink – at least then I would have told them what’s wrong.

Ideally what they should have done is to give the free coffee straight away at the time when they receive the feedback form – as a real appreciation to those customers providing valuable information to the business, which can then be used to improve the customer experience.

My advice to this coffee shop (and to others planning similar campaigns): Think through the whole process of collecting customer feedback from the point of the customer, before implementing such feedback processes.