Customer Centricity in an Always-on age
We live in a connected age where customers expect faster response time than ever before. This applies from the time they walk through the door or visit a website to when they call or email the business. In a world of increased competition it’s crucial that you ALWAYS provide a superior personal customer experience. If they don’t, you risk losing customers. Since that’s a risk no-one can afford to take, keep reading to discover some tips on becoming customer centric.
What it means to be customer centric
Investopedia defines “customer centric” as: A specific approach to doing business that focuses on the customer. Customer centric businesses ensure that the customer is at the centre of a business’s philosophy, operations or ideas. These businesses use every means at their disposal to keep customers happy and satisfied.
Thanks to technology, clients now communicate with businesses via social media, email and by cell phone. It’s possible to conclude a deal without ever seeing them. Ultimately, each business owner is responsible for their customers’ perception of the business and services and of course: Their perception is their reality.
Now the question is: Do you want to create a good impression or a bad one? The answer is pretty obvious. Being customer centric, providing good customer service and creating a good impression go hand in hand. Here are five tips to create the impression of responding quickly:
- Phone etiquette
Phone interaction with customers will either portray the business in a positive or negative light. Since the goal is to create a good impression and provide excellent customer service, adhere to the following:
- Answer cell phone/telephone promptly – The phone remains the primary point of contact for many customers. It plays a major role in most daily operations. If a call goes unanswered, it may frustrate customers and they could take their business elsewhere. Make it your mission to answer business calls.
- Smile and be positive – Put on a smile before you place or answer a phone call. A smile affects the sound of the voice by giving it a more pleasant and friendly tone. Following a positive greeting, such as “Hello,” “Good Morning,” or “Good Afternoon,” say the name of the business and person’s name.
- Speak clearly – Speak in a clear tone, not too loud or too low. Enunciate words clearly and slowly enough for the customer to understand everything.
- Have a voicemail greeting – It’s crucial that the business has a voicemail system to allow the owner to reach all customers. It might also be the first contact customers have with the company. To ensure the voicemail greeting is professional, make sure it:
- Tells customers who they have reached;
- Lets customers know the situation (out of the office, in the office but in meetings, etc.);
- Apologises that there is no-one to take the call;
- Lets customers know when to expect to receive a call back; and
- Provides instructions on what to do if the call is urgent.
- Return a phone call – Always return phone calls! Within the timeframe promised if that is the case.
- Follow up – Sent through a proposal or quote? Follow up to find out what the customer thinks. It’s amazing how many companies don’t do this and then fail to convert the lead.
- Get back to customers over email
Set a personal standard for responding to email, for example, responding within 24 hours. Or replying even if to say when to expect a fuller response. Customers should not have to follow up on an enquiry. It’s a business’s duty to follow up and ensure that customers are satisfied. Equally important is writing professional emails. The last thing a business need is to lose clients due to a badly written email. In answering emails:
- Maintain a cordial tone;
- Pay attention to the words used, avoiding profanity at all costs;
- Acknowledge the last email before replying the questions in the email; and
- Keep it concise and accurate.
- Have an out of office message
Today, owning a business means being available to customers 24/7. You and your team need to have out of office messages when away. The message should give customers the following information:
- How long the business owner will be unavailable;
- Return date; and
- Who to contact for assistance.
- Respond to customers on social media
While social media management tends to be out of realm of most franchisees it’s important that you have a say in how social media accounts are managed. Not responding to customers on social media is a major customer service flaw.
It’s extremely important to be readily available to meet customers’ needs online. Not only do customers expect customer service to be accurate, supportive and existent across social media platforms, but they also expect it to be exceptionally fast. Some social media experts prescribe a 60 minute response time!
The good news is customers who have positive customer service through social media (even when they complain) go on to recommend the brand.
- Communicate with customers
Customers need to be reminded of what you do and what you offer. To build trust, communicate with customers regularly and keep them informed. If a company is responsive and friendly, and provides timely, relevant information when the customer needs it, they’ll build a reputation for being available.
The customer is king: Be customer centric
The bottom line: Businesses should ALWAYS put customers first. Being unresponsive costs money! It’s a failure to convert leads and a lost word of mouth opportunity. Remember:
- Customers’ perception is their reality;
- It’s easier to keep customers happy than attract new ones;
- Online and offline, complaints spread like wildfire;
- Without customers, there is no business; and
- A company will succeed or fail depending on how well it WOWs customers.
These tips may seem “trivial”, but when it comes to being customer centric, it’s the little things that count. For other tips on navigating the exciting world of franchising visit whichfranchise.co.za