There is one key factor between a successful business and a non-successful business within a market place where there are multiple competitors; the successful business understands what their customer wants better than the non-successful one. Understanding your customer’s wants and needs gives a company its competitive edge. Customer satisfaction with a supplier builds continued loyalty and it is this loyalty that creates significant barriers to entry for new market entrants.
How often have you cold called a business or individual only to be told that they are happy with their current supplier and give you the “no thank you”. This loyalty comes about because the company they currently buy from understands what the customer wants and tailors its products and services to directly be aligned to the needs of this customer. In marketing terms this is often called a unique sales proposition.
Successful companies understand that the customer is king, without a customer there is no cash flow. Keeping customers happy can be quite challenging for a business, particularly for large corporates. Kodak is a perfect example, the once Photography Mega Company became complacent and stopped listing to the voices of their customers, instead they created products that nobody wanted while their competitors like Fuji started to dominate the market by understanding that their clients were after quality digital camera products. Kodak hired a top IT CEO, had thousands of internal strategy sessions but the truth of the Kodak demise and bankruptcy came about because they no longer understood what their customers wanted.
Many years ago while working for a large corporate doing business development, a fellow account manager received a mega order from a large customer. I was most surprised around the timing of the order as I understood that the customer did not need to order at this time, they were awash with stock.
“That’s a huge order”, I stated, “Why did they order that now while their warehouse is loaded with stock!”
“Oh”, my colleague replied, “it’s a wedding present!”
I was literally gob smacked, my colleague was getting married the following week and the commission on the order was quite a windfall for him. When I saw my colleague together with the customer it was noticeable that they were very close. They had a strong relationship; my colleague always delivered him good service, responded to all his requests and ensured that all other parts of the organisation delivered the same service that he did. The customer was very satisfied; my colleague understood his customer’s wants and needs and in return was rewarded with a big fat bonus on his wedding day! That’s when I learnt, customer service is about building relationships, communication and delivering quality wanted outcomes for customers.
So how do you understand your customers? Good account managers that market business to business will visit their clients frequently. Catching up on a weekly basis, is everything going ok with our product? Are you happy with the service from us? Are our prices to your liking?’
If you don’t have a team of account managers build your customer or client electronic mailing database, and send them out electronic customer satisfaction surveys. After they buy, before they buy, during the sales process! Gather as much data as you can, understand how your customers feel about your products, your employees, your prices or even you! Data collected through customer satisfaction surveys is intellectual capital to be used within strategy development, proactive customer service retention and employee performance management. Customer is king, their satisfaction is the best method for keeping your business competitive, and for smart customers it is the only score that matters.
Check out www.hrtools.com.au, free customer satisfaction surveys for companies with less than 10 employees. More than 10 employees contact the team and they will put together a subscription for you that will get you taking your business from good to great!