Feb 04

Take Care

As we continue to build our businesses and constantly review what we are doing and or how we operate, it is often refreshing to pull out old mantras that remind us over and over again of some truisms.

The number one for me, because it strikes to the very heart of the matter, is this.

It can cost six to eight times as much to attract a new customer as it does to keep an existing one.

Often we work so hard at building new business that we can neglect those who have placed us in the position we are in!

As our offices were being completely refurbished recently, a great deal of things were popping out of bottom drawers and from the back of credenzas. There were old pictures, old business cards, old business card holders (always worth a good flick through and chuckle every now and then) and the odd piece of paper with ideas and notes

The one that caught my attention, and I give full credit to whoever the author was, listed some simple facts about clients:

1. The customer is the most important person in the business, treat them as such.

It is not unusual to see in some companies where the customer is actually an irritant: If it wasn’t for that annoying customer, I could get on with my job!  Hello, without the customer there would not be a job!

2. The customer is not dependent on us, we are dependent on them.

How often have you seen people who act as though a client or customer is actually lucky to have them working for them? I’m sorry, but in my world, there are only two job titles: one that ends in “ee” and the other “er”. We are the employee and the client always the employer! That is unless you are strangely paying your clients to be with you?

3. The customer is the person who brings us their needs – it is our job to fulfill those needs.

We lay out our offering and talk boldly of what our “store has to offer”. We entice and we seduce, like lovers courting a new partner. Then for some reason, we think it is possible to act as if we were an old married couple. We know this is wrong! The client should always be treated as a slightly elusive love.

So go ahead and satisfy all their needs no matter how insatiable! This is a one-sided affair and we give willingly, as our clients pay us to be that attentive.

4. The customer is not there to argue with or to match wits with – we are there to accommodate them.

Come now, we have all done it! You suddenly find yourself trying to take a client in a direction they simply do not want to go. You believe it is right, but they simply cannot see it. It may be our professional obligation and duty to give the “best advice” and to be the client’s guiding hand, but be careful that you do not start preaching. Moral high ground can be very high, and the fall quite painful. What is more, when you wake up, you will be one client down.

5. The customer does us a favour when they call, we are not doing them a favour by taking the call.

Firstly, a potential client calling into your offices is manna from heaven. If you allow reception or “anyone” to mess it up through poor training or a bad attitude, simply hand out warnings, they just undermine everything you have worked towards for years! If it is an existing client, then it is all about efficiency, politeness and speed of reaction to the client’s request, this can always be improved upon and should be a constant area of training.

These have been five simple little rules of thumb. Stick them on your pin board, make them into car stickers, whatever, but they are just part of our total dependency on clients.
Finally, what do you call an operation that ignores all of the above rules and more? Nothing … it went bust last week.

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