Make your customers successful

The ultimate great experience is when your customer does not just enjoy doing business with you, or is even amazed by what you can do for them on one or two occasions, but when they see that what you can do for them is critical to their own success. When this happens, you will not have loyal customers, you will have business partners.

We aim too low. I believe that one of the reasons customers get a bad experience is because we try to give them good customer service. We sit inside our businesses and dream up things we think our customers would like us to do and then spend time, effort and money doing them. The trouble is, often what we do is not what our customers want us to do. For example, I regularly stay at four and five star hotels all over the world. I have noticed that all of them, even in countries like Brazil, fold the first sheet on the roll of toilet paper into a point. Now I do not know about you, but I rarely have the need for such accuracy! I often wonder how much it costs each year in a country like New Zealand to do that.And every time I have to wait in line to check in or out because there are too few people serving at the desk, I think to myself,“We are waiting because most of the staff are up in the rooms folding the toilet paper!”

When we think about giving our customers good service, we sit in our world and look out. What we should be doing, of course, is standing in our customers' shoes and looking back in to our business. We must use our scarce resources wisely and that means providing products and services that our customers value, not ones we think are a good idea.

It is better to focus on customer satisfaction than customer service. Satisfaction is the feeling we get when our needs are met, so if you aim to satisfy your customers, you will have to get out of your world and into theirs and find out what their needs are. More importantly, you will have to measure your performance, not by looking at what you have done, but by finding out how your customers about what you have done. That is a big difference. What do you measure to see whether you have had a good day, week or month? I bet nearly all of them relate to activities, things that you do. feel

How often do you go to your customers to learn whether they are satisfied with what you do? This is important, because whether your customers are prepared to pay the prices you need to charge to be profitable, and whether they will return to buy again, is dependent on how they feel, not on what you did.

It is not what you do that matters. It is how your customers feel about what you have done.

But even satisfying your customers is not enough because even satisfied customers defect. In fact, research shows that up to 86% of customers who switched suppliers were happy at the time they defected!

Why would a happy customer take their business somewhere else? Because when you satisfy a customer, you give them what they expect, and when you give someone what they expect to receive, they do not notice it. When you last ate at a restaurant, for example, were you impressed with the fact they provided tables and chairs for you to sit at? Or served the food on plates? Or gave you knives and forks to use? Of course not. Did it cost the restaurant owner time, effort and money to provide these things for you? Certainly. Would you have been upset if they had not had these amenities? You bet! By providing these products and services, the business incurred a cost and gained a customer who did not even notice what they had done for them. The customer was satisfied but unimpressed.

There are two types of customers: Those who are in business and those who are consumers. Business people are trying to increase their profits and consumers are trying to maintain or enhance a certain lifestyle for themselves and their families. You can make your customers successful if you focus on helping your customers to achieve the lifestyle they want and/or to improve the profitability of their businesses.

Business is tough but it is not complicated. Successful companies have profitable customers who stay with them for a long time. For that to happen, their customers must have a great experience every time they do business with the company.