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Customers are the lifeblood of your business

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By Pat Wallace

Customers are the lifeblood of business, whether it is retail, service or manufacturing.  There are some ideas you might consider when thinking of your business and how you and your staff relate to your customers.

1. Learn

Learn all you can-about individual customers, industry trends, our company’s products or services, policies, and procedures - anything that can help you identify your customers’ needs and how your business can meet them.

2. Analyze

Analyze your best features.  We are not all perky, but we may be professional, knowledgeable, friendly, or outgoing.

3. Capitalize

Capitalize on those features, and address the qualities that need work, but don’t try to be someone else.

4. Smile

Greet customers with a positive outlook.  Even when you are on the phone, a smile can help you come across as more friendly.   If you’re having a bad day, practicing that smile, even if you don’t feel all that happy, could eventually change your mood or attitude of one of your customers.  What if they’re having a really bad day?  You never know when a smile or a kind word will make a difference in someone’s life.

5. Ask how you can help them

Listen to the customer’s description of their needs.

6. Answer their questions accurately and completely

7. Anticipate additional questions

A simple follow up such as “Is there anything else I can help you with?” may prompt them to pursue the conversation further or bring up another subject.  If they sense that you are eager to end the dialogue, their concerns may not be fully resolved, and they might look elsewhere.

8. Appreciation

Thank your customer for their interest in your business, whether it is a first time shopper or a loyal patron.

9. Respect customer preferences

For example, if they do not wish to receive phone calls at home, send a letter instead.

10. Maintain good records - client contacts, purchases, preferences, etc.

11. Go beyond

Consider going beyond customer service and think about the need to delight your customers.    It means leaving them feeling good about their experience with you, as a representative of the business.  It means stepping outside of your comfort zone of simply answering questions and stepping up to anticipating their needs.

Your business depends on you, and experts say it costs six to seven times as much a sell a new customer as it does to resell an existing customer.

“To love what you do and feel that it matters—how could anything be more fun?”  -Katherine Graham

The chamber wants all businesses to succeed.  Customer service is the one thing a small business has in its favor over the big box stores where it is difficult to find someone who can help with a problem.

Henry County has great small businesses who are willing to go the extra mile.  Don’t forget to buy local!