Learn How To Put Your Customer First

In this article we're going to learn how to put your customer first.

Customers expect to be treated with respect, dignity, and with a courteous attitude when they enter a store. They also expect to find good values. These are just the basics and yet many companies use the basics as the ultimate goal of their business. Sure they reach it again and again but they still lose customers over time. This is because customers shouldn't be treated with just the bare minimum of decency. They can get that anywhere. They'll shop at a store that goes well beyond the minimum and truly wows them.

How can you wow your customer? How can you put your customer first?
The first thing you'll want to do is identify what it is that they expect and what more you can do for them.
Expectations differ from one industry to another and from one product or service to another. Someone who gets their car fixed at a mechanic's shop might expect:
  • The basics (decency, courteous treatment, etc.).
  • Timely service.
  • A way to get to work on time after they've dropped off their car.
  • An accurate estimate.
  • A sound warranty.
Someone who goes to buy a radio might expect:
  • The basics (decency, courteous treatment, etc.).
  • A working product.
  • A way to conveniently buy batteries, too.
  • A comprehensive warranty.
  • A knowledgeable staff to help them.
Think about what people in your industry want
Once you've done that, you've just created a list of the bare minimums. Don't measure these! Or, if you do measure them, measure them as your baseline. So now, you want to think about ways to build customer loyalty by offering great customer service and wowing your customer.
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In each case of your industry-specific, minimum service list, think about how you can do more.
The mechanic's shop might make their list look like this
  • The basics (respect, decency, courteous treatment, ...) -- Go beyond by meeting the customer, shaking every customer's hand ,and learning their name. Go out to meet the customer by their car before they even get out.
  • Timely service -- Create ways to be very efficient and always finish a car under the time suggested, or the repair is free.
  • A way to get to work on time after they've dropped off their car -- Buy a limousine and offer customers a ride to work in the limousine.
  • An accurate estimate -- Always tell customers that the bill will never be more than the estimate.
  • A sound warranty. -- Determine what the industry standard is for warranties and double it.

The radio store might make their list look like this
  • The basics (respect, decency, courteous treatment, ...) -- Meet every customer when they walk through the door. Ask their name and what they are looking for.
  • A working product. -- Always demonstrate the product to the customer before they leave the store. Explain, as you take it out of the box, that you want to make sure it works so they don't have to bring it back.
  • A way to conveniently buy batteries also -- Sell batteries in the store or, better yet, offer batteries for free with the purchase.
  • A comprehensive warranty -- Determine what the industry standard is on warranties and double it.
  • A knowledgeable staff to help them -- All staff are fully trained to the expert level to know all of your stock.
As you can see, in each case, these shops identified the bare minimum, then thought up ways to go above and beyond that, so that they could offer the customer more than the customer was looking for in the first place.
This is a great start, but you might think of even more improvements. Don't stop at just improving the industry minimums. Think about other things you can do that other people in your industry may not be doing. For example, the mechanic's shop might:
  • Offer a comfortable waiting area with gourmet coffee and baked goods, as well as cable TV and high speed internet.
  • Clean and detail the customer's car when you are finished, no matter what job you do.
  • Call the customer every 3 months to see how their car is running.
  • Call the customer 1 week after the repair to see how the repair is holding up.
  • Call the customer on their birthday and send them a free coupon for a detailing.
  • Have a clown or magician on site to entertain the children.
While not all of these are practical for every mechanic's shop, this particular mechanic's shop might enjoy some great success with these customer-wowing additions.
Now it's your turn to try it. Make a list of the basic minimums that your customers expect when they enter your store. Then, make a list of things you can do to go above and beyond their expectations. Continue adding to the list, other things that you may not have thought of initially.
But is it worth it? What is the cost and how much are you willing to spend? That is a tough question to ask because each store is different. However, think of it this way:
  1. How much did you spend on marketing last year?
  2. How many new customers came in?
  3. Divide those numbers (A/B) and you have a rough estimate of how much you spend to find each new customer.
  4. How much will your new customer service ideas cost in a year?
  5. How many total customers do you have in a year?
  6. Divide D by E to find out how much your customer service ideas will cost per customer. This tells you how much it costs to keep a customer.
  7. Now think about how much each current customer spends, on the average, at your business.
  8. If you lose just one customer because of a lack of customer service, you have to spend the amount from item C to get that customer back. Therefore, rather than finding a new customer with that amount, you're just replacing a current customer.
  9. Compare C and F. If C is higher, which it often is, you should consider implementing your customer service ideas right away
How do you put customers first? By wowing them with great service. To do that you need to start where other companies are finishing. Start with the basics and see how you can build on those. Your customers are worth it!