It is said that customers are the most powerful chief executive officers who can fire all the people in an organisation, including the business owner(s). This is because the moment customers stop buying from an organisation, the business will naturally collapse and everybody, including owners will naturally become sacked.
It is therefore imperative to examine this text entitled "101 Ways to Really Satisfy Your Customers" written by Andrew Griffiths. Griffiths is a professional marketing consultant, as well as director of an Australian company called "The Marketing Professionals". He is an accomplished trainer and reputable public speaker who specialises in trouble-shooting for companies that are in dire need of professional advice on marketing and customer-related issues.
According to this marketing consultant, the modern consumers are more demanding and more informed than ever before. Griffiths says they are aware that they have choices and that there is considerable competition. The author adds that costs can only go so low, so there is limit to reducing prices as a competitive tool. He stresses that this leaves one area for modern businesses to outshine their competitors, and that is customer service.
Griffiths submits that small businesses have the greatest potential to offer extremely high levels of customer service, due to their direct contact with customers. He says unfortunately, very few people fully realise the power of customer service and what it can do for their business.
According to this author, simply put, customer service is about exceeding your customers' expectations, and if you do this, you are definitely on the way to success and profitability. Griffiths assures that this book provides you with a greater insight into understanding and identifying what customers expect; and details simple suggestions that will enable all businesses to exceed these expectations and reap the rewards.
This book is segmented into 13 basic sections of 101 tips, with additional 20 bonus tips that constitute a kind of textual appendage.
Section one is generically christened "Understanding your customers" and contains eight tips. According to this consultant here, all businesses constantly need customers. Griffiths says this may sound blatantly obvious and it is, but one of the most common customer service complaints is that businesses do not listen to their customers.
In his words, "We all need to take time and energy to listen to what our customers have to say. We have to look for ways to make our customers feel comfortable, and to tell us their opinions on what we do well and which aspects of our business we need to improve."
Griffiths says you should always put yourself in your customers' shoes; attend to what your customers expect from you; hire a mystery shopper to evaluate your business; observe your business objectively; take time to talk to your customers; encourage your customers to give you their opinions and start a customer satisfaction survey immediately.
Section two of this text is conceptually woven together as "Your working environment" and contains eight tips, that is, tips nine to 16. This author adds that there are many ways that you can make your business more appealing to your customers. While many of these may be obvious, there are also many subtle, service-related things that can make your business far more inviting and customer-friendly, educates Griffiths.
This section identifies some of the best ways to improve your level of customer service by looking closely at your workplace. As a recommendation, the author says you should make it easy for people to visit your business and make the entrance to your business inviting. He advises you to instil confidence in yourself and your products and speed up your customer service.
Section three is summarily entitled "Your staff" and contains 17 tips, that is, tips 17 to 33. According to Griffiths here, staff are the front line when it comes to customer service. As customers, we are very forgiving if a member of staff tries hard to meet our expectations, despite problems that are out of their control, discloses the author. Griffiths says for example, an excellent waiter will make a meal at a restaurant enjoyable even if the meal itself is fairly ordinary; while the opposite of this is also true - an excellent meal can be ruined by a rude and incompetent waiter.
This consultant educates that you should try to create a good first impression and treat your customers with respect. He stresses the need for you to communicate confidently with customers and ensure that your staff are knowledgeable about the products they are selling.
Griffiths advises you to always smile, take your staff to your competitors' businesses, have regular brainstorming sessions, debrief staff after good and bad experiences, encourage your customers to tell you if your staff give outstanding service, and reward your staff for outstanding customer service. He adds that you should ask a customer to come in and talk to your staff, stressing that you should give your staff experience in other areas of your business and teach them how to sell.
Sections four to nine are based on the generic subject matters of making it easy for your customers to buy; the personal touch; face-to-face customer service; telephone customer service; promotional material; and customer service and the Internet. These sections contain 44 tips covering tips 34 to 77.
Section ten is summarily entitled "Following up on a sale is good customer service" and contains four tips, that is, tips 78 to 81. According to this author here, many people think that a sale ends when the customer walks out the door. Griffiths adds that for some smaller-priced items, it does.
In his words, "I wouldn't expect my local convenience store to make a follow-up call to check if I was satisfied with my purchase of a carton of milk. But for higher-priced items and services, following up after a sale is a surefire way to ensure that your customers are very satisfied with your level of service. Even if the customer isn't happy, at least you have the chance to do something about it."
Griffiths says you should endeavour to discuss the sale on the spot; make a follow-up call; explain what to do if there are any problems; and contact customers that you may have lost.
In sections 11 to 13 covering tips 82 to 101, that is, 20 tips, this author analytically X-rays the generic concepts of internal customer service; maintaining a personal commitment to customer service; and what to do when things go wrong.
Apart from 101 tips, there is a bonus section containing additional 20 tips on customer service.
Stylistically, this book is a success. The language of the book is simple and the presentation of the ideas very unique, characteristic of Griffiths' 101 series. By segmenting the 101 strategies into 13 sections, Griffiths has been able to forestall the boredom that may have resulted from the multiplicity of tips offered in this book. To ensure active reader participation, Griffiths includes notes and customer service action list segment.
However, some tips seem (conceptually) repetitive in the book. It is better to harmonise them to achieve compactness.
In short, this text is a must-read for everybody especially that no business can succeed without customers.
GOKE ILESANMI, Editor-in-Chief/CEO of http://www.gokeilesanmi.com/ and Managing Consultant/CEO of Gokmar Communication Consulting, is a Certified Public Speaker/Emcee, (Business) Communication Specialist, Motivational Speaker, Career Management Coach, Renowned Book Reviewer, Corporate Leadership Expert and Editorial Consultant.
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