Customers are the most important part of every business. Every customer wants something from the business that he or she frequents (a product or service) and every business wants something from that customer in return (money). Using this give-and-take scenario, customer raises to importance.
The Ten Commandments of Business Success.
One of the prominent lists ever developed for understanding the importance of customers has had its authorship attributed to Mahatma Gandhi.
1. Customers are the most important people in our business. 2. Customers are not dependent on us – we are dependent on them. 3. Customers are not to argue or match wits with. 4. Customers bring us their needs – it is our job to fill those needs. 5. Customers are not an interruption of work – they are the purpose of it. 6. Customers do us a favor when they call – we do not do them a favor by serving them. 7. Customers are part of our business – they are not outsiders. 8. Customers deserve the most courteous and attentive treatment we can give them. 9. Customers are the individuals who make it possible to pay our wages. 10. Customers are the lifeblood of this and every other business.
The Customer Paradox (or Customer Wants versus Customer Needs)
Are customers always right? Of course not. Sometimes a business has to consider what customers need rather than what they want to ensure long-term profitability. Focusing on near-sighted operations that don’t consider the whole customer picture, short-term gains often lead to long-term pain
Dealing with Difficult Customers
Generally speaking, difficult customers are people whose cost of service outweighs what they generate in terms of revenue. Every business has them - and whether internal or external, there are several ways to treat these folks before taking the irrevocable step of showing them the door. When pride, the need to maintain one’s dignity, or anger threaten to contaminate a customer relationship, the following suggestions may help diffuse the situation:
1. Listen to the customer. Don’t just let the customer talk, listen. The customer may have a valid point and is just not presenting it appropriately. Don’t interrupt and don’t trivialize the problem; the complaint or insight being expressed just might save the business a lot of time and money. Listen and let the customer run out of steam.
2. Remain calm. Speak softly and directly. Lowering your voice almost always results in the listener doing the same. Don’t exacerbate the situation by becoming excited, matching wits, or trying to get the upper hand. Control the situation by controlling your emotions. It’s tough for difficult customers to play their game if the opposition refuses to play.
3. Don’t take any remarks or behavior personally. Leave personal traits out of the situation. If you maintain your professionalism, you will not lose your dignity – no matter how much the other person is carrying on.
4. Attempt to solve the problem. Don’t pass the buck by sending the customer on a wild goose chase. The goal is to solve the problem quickly and directly. Remember that the customer may not know your organization’s setup and maybe frustrated because it’s not obvious where to go for help.
5. Apologize for any inconvenience and thank the customer. Acknowledgment is a powerful tool for disarming aggression.
6. Remember that disgruntled customers tell up to five times more people about a bad product or business compared to the number of people they tell about good products or services. So do your best to placate irate customers.
The Final Word
Nothing is more crucial to a business than customers. The role of every business is to serve customers what they want, where they want it &
the way they want it – while remaining ever vigilant as to what they might need in the future.
Put another way, fancy theories and marketing trends are no match for good service and an attentive eye and ear when it comes to running a business. Entrepreneurs must never lose sight of the fact that every decision they make and every action they take must be customer-oriented. Anything else is a complete and utter waste of time and resources. Period.