A customer is anyone you have a deal with, whether your reader, your product consumer, a subscriber to your ideas and so on. If you are a speaker, preacher or even a Pastor, your followers and people who listen to you can also be considered as customers because they are consuming whatever it is you are giving out to them. On another level, everyone you meet is a potential customer and you have to treat them as such. You don’t have to own personal business to understand the importance of building a customer-friendly environment and relationship because while people may get attracted to you, there must be something that should keep them loyal to you else you lose them. To think people should be unconditionally loyal to you without any efforts on your own side is self-deceit! That you are a Pastor doesn’t mean people should just trust you overnight, you must ensure that you build it or you don’t blame anyone who has refused to or stopped trusting you. I will be telling us some things we need to know about building a better customer relationship.
A closer study of the operations of Jesus reveals He is customer-service oriented. Jesus gave a listening ear to everyone and even allowed the children to come to Him when it seemed they wouldn’t offer anything at that moment. Truth is, anyone you ignore today may be a potentially big customer to you tomorrow. These points don’t just apply to businesses, it also applies to other relationships even though it had been written with business in mind.
- BE INTENTIONAL
Customers will not just start coming to you just because you exist. You must be intentional in attracting and serving your customers. This means your brandings, your approach and your carriage has to flow with your intentions. You don’t need a logo for the sake of having a logo, you don’t need to have a website just because you feel like having a website, you don’t need to run ads just because you see others running ads! You need to sit down and think! Know what you need to do and why you need to do it. If you are creating a logo, there should be a reason for that and there should be a goal you want to score with it. As a content and graphics designer, I have come across clients who want a logo but don’t even know why they want it. When I ask them the philosophies behind their brand they don’t know and they don’t have any idea what they want. I have also come across clients who want a website but they don’t have contents and don’t even know the need for a content creator. They just want to create a website and blogs because they saw others doing it but they end up without using those things because they aren’t intentional about it. Generally speaking, if you are out to serve a certain audience, your intentions should wrap around attracting them, serving them and retaining them.
- BUILD TRUST | IMPROVE
Trust doesn’t just happen, it is not built overnight! People will not suddenly trust you because you have a good storefront but they can be attracted by it and can even decide to try you out! It is in the process of trying you out that they begin to see reasons to either trust you or never come back. When people patronize you, they aren’t doing that because they trust you, they are simply taking a risk to know if you could serve them better and if you do, they will come back the next time. You can build trust by making your purpose clear and by sticking to that purpose. Tell people what you offer and offer them what you said you can offer the best way it should be offered. You aren’t the only one doing the business you are doing, they passed so many other service providers to get to you and therefore you must count it as a privilege that they chose you among many. When you give quality services to your clients, you are building up their trust in you. Don’t just give them the best you know how to give, also seek more knowledge! Today, there are lots of information out there that you can grab freely or pay some money to have them. You can make researches on how to improve your products just because you want to serve your customers well. By developing better and better every day, your customers are trusting you more knowing that you desire to serve them better.
- LEARN FROM YOUR CUSTOMERS
That your customers have chosen your service doesn’t mean they cannot do it themselves. Some come to you for the sake of convenience. You may be very good in frying potatoes with great butter-like taste, you may even have your own recipes that no one knows about but sometimes you do not have the time to make them yourself and you’ve got to visit a restaurant to buy them and eat! In the same way, people come for your service because they have other things they are doing and therefore they may even know better than you. This is why it is important to collect feedbacks, pay attention to it and learn from it. Sometimes your customers are more familiar with your products than you because they use it better than you. I remember going to a phone shop some years ago, the seller thought a certain phone was having issues and she wanted to sell it at a low price. I took the phone from her and made some settings on it and the phone started working perfectly fine! She said “well, I sell phones. It doesn’t mean I know the advanced settings of phones.” Knowing the specifications of something doesn’t mean you know everything about it! Be humble enough to listen to your customers’ criticism, take notes of them and start learning how to be better from them.
- BE STYLISH
Whether you admit it or not, we aren’t in the olden days anymore and things are fast changing. When I moved to my new location, I was looking for where to cut my hair which I had usually done in Black & While at Onitsha Mall. I live very far from the city Mall and would need a place closer to me. A bike man volunteered to show me a place and he tried convincing me that they are skilful! When we got there the Barbers weren’t looking neat, they look tattered to me and I couldn’t even stand the environment regardless of their skills. I had to walk out immediately until I saw a place that looked better although not to my taste yet. You may have a very nice product but without style, you will have a very limited audience and you may even lose potential customers. People may seem to have no choice today but when something more stylish comes up tomorrow, they will leave you! No matter how unimportant you think it is, people want styles. It is style that attracts most people and it is with the quality of your service that you keep them. Communicate your brand and serve them with style. Being stylish means being modern, creative, neat and sophisticated.
- BE ATTENTIVE TO CUSTOMERS’ NEED
Your customers are like children, they are very demanding and will not stop making demands. But you can always convert their demands to your own benefit when you understand that a customer’s demand is an avenue to introduce a new product and sell. If you realize that your customers are always making a demand for a certain product you don’t sell, you can quickly add that product to your stock and start selling. I know a tailor who also sells call credit cards because whenever her customers come around they always want to make calls! I also know a salon that sells cold drinks because their customers would always want to drink something cold while they wait for their turn. You can only leverage on their demands when you pay attention to their needs. It will also help you improve your services. For instance, a customer may make an unserious remark like “why I like coming here is because the air-conditioner works so well in here, so I can relax a while.” It may not sound serious but it is important, it will help you ensure that the air-conditioner continues working. I stopped going to the market for certain things since I could get them at a same or even lesser price at the malls because the malls have conducive environments and I wouldn’t have to spend time bargaining to avoid been cheated. There are little things you will do that will make your customers love you but you may never know these things until you start paying attention to your customers.
- DON’T JUDGE CUSTOMERS’ IMPATIENCE
Impatience isn’t a nice virtue, that is so true when we start handling moral classes but like the popular saying goes, “customers are always right.” See their impatience as their rights too and stop judging them for it. People get busier every day and everyone is in a rush to jump into the next activity. When you notice your customers are impatient, it may be an indication that you are slow or an indication that you need to increase in speed. Increase your speed of service to meet up with their impatience. These days nobody wants to join the queue so you must devise means to avoid long waiting. Many people will give up on your service if they have to wait for a long time to be served especially when they have an alternative. When you don’t pay attention to these things, the next competitor is using your weakness to improve and is diverting your customers.
- TREAT EVERYONE AS VIP
Treat every of your customer as VIP. This doesn’t mean giving your basic subscribers premium packages but it means serving your basic subscribers just the same way you serve your premium subscribers. No matter the amount of transaction one is making, give them equal attention. Don’t serve another person better just because they make bigger purchases. If you would smile at the politician, also smile at that layman who came to patronize you. Everybody knocks on your door and no matter how desperate or choiceless they appear, treat them like they have better options. Don’t treat certain gender with value and treat the other with disrespect. Don’t respect the opinions of your male customers and ignore the opinions of your female customers. Don’t give your female customers winks and sigh at your male customers! There is a great value in treating people well no matter how much you don’t like them. As much as treating them well helps retain them, they will also treat you well the day you enter their own offices.
- BE PROMPT IN DELIVERY
Starting out some areas of my career, I made great mistakes of trying to hold customers by promising them to deliver very early and not then fulfilling those promises. As a printer, I understood the term “printers devil” by experience but I always ignored those facts and give my clients “impossible delivery dates” just to gain their loyalty but at the end of the day, the impression machine would get faulty, the DI machine would develop issues, the jobs ahead of mine on the machine would be much and I fail to meet up. This affected me so much and affected my customers’ trust in me. Another thing that affected me was being afraid to say the real cost of a service, sometimes I would give customers the least price but end up not delivering because the prices I gave them couldn’t do the job. You don’t have to give customers delivery dates that aren’t possible, you also don’t have to be sympathetic with giving your customers the actual cost of a service. If they can’t afford it or wait, then they can go elsewhere but truth is that they will always come back because you were sincere with them. To deliver promptly means to deliver when you promised. Don’t delay people unnecessarily, fast track every job and ensure you always meet the deadline. Customers will always come back when you meet the deadline.
- BE PROFESSIONAL
To be professional means to be efficient! You can’t win your customers’ heart by playing like an amateur. Personalize how you treat everyone but never ever joke around! When you are professional in your dealing with your customers, they will trust you better knowing that you are serious with what you are doing. Professionalism includes being transparent! Both in the way you dress, talk and work, express that professionalism!
- BE LOYAL
Loyalty is mutual. As much as you want loyal customers, be loyal to your customers too. This is one mistake so many leaders make, they want loyal followers but they are not loyal to their followers. Your customers are the reason your business is running, be accountable to them and make sure there are no hidden agenda and charges. Be supportive to your customers before, during and after you have rendered the service they paid for. Sometimes they may need technical support, sometimes they may need direction on how to use what you sold to them other than what was explained and you have to give them that support as though your payment depends on it.
There are so many other points but I believe the ones listed here will go a long way to help you! It is God’s desire that you do well in your career but your actions have to align with His desires before you can make progress in the way He wants you to.
Let’s get your feedback and questions from the comment section.
~ George O.N