According to researchers, $83 billion dollars is lost by U.S. enterprises each year. The reason why? Poor customer service. Things like having to wait for a response, having to speak to a robot, and having to repeat the same issue over and over again, are ticking people off to the point that they’re not going to take it anymore. They’re going to take their business elsewhere.
As entrepreneurs, we don’t have the luxury of leaving that kind of money on the table. For one thing, once a customer is lost, they are very hard to win back. Secondly, social media is “word of mouth” on steroids, and a bad customer experience travels faster than a fire in a bed of straw. Remember the Abercrombie and Fitch and Amy’s Baking Company debacles?
Julia Billen knew better. The 49-year-old entrepreneur made customer and employee service a top priority in her business, Warmly Yours, which sells radiant heat flooring to residents and contractors. Instead of selling the product through distributors who often are not equipped to answer questions or receive feedback. Billen set up her business so that it sells directly to the customer. In a 2010 Entrepreneur.com article, she was quoted as saying that this was one of the keys to her success.
“I wanted to build a business one person at a time,” she says. “We provide a team of experts to help them with any installation questions or issues they might have. We love our direct model because we get direct feedback from our customers. We hear the good, the bad and the ugly, and that wonderful info serves to make us better.”
You see, knowledge is power. Knowing what makes your customer happy ensures that you will have a happy customer, another thing that many U.S. companies are not doing, according to a 2007 survey by Coldwell Banker, which found that 30% of customers were not given enough of an opportunity to voice their opinions on their customer service experience.
To retain your customers:
- Listen to them
- Respond quickly
- Provide a superior product/service
- Ask for their feedback — often
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Robin Taney, (aka the “Get R.E.A.L Girl”) is the owner and founder of Studio 4 PR. She works with creative, independent, and “kitchen table” entrepreneurs who are highly motivated to be found by their perfect client. You can connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Pinterest, and sign up for mailing list You are welcome to use this post on your blog, provided you do not alter it in any way and include a link to this blog.