Win Loyalty Through Great Customer Service

Hopefully the current economic downturn will begin to work itself out this year but, regardless, the strength of the relationships you build with your customers now will not only help you outlast the short-term challenges, but help position you for the better days to come.

Here are ten ways companies can win consumers’ hearts and minds during challenging times, most of which are based on the simple, common sense premise of providing great customer service:

1. Use cost savings to boost marketing

Focus on cost savings in addition to revenue generation when implementing a customer initiative, and then use those savings to fund a more aggressive effort to grow market share while others are cutting their efforts…and dropping off your prospects’ radar.

2. Don’t stop customer initiatives

Don’t discontinue all existing customer initiatives in an uncertain economy. If possible, look for ways to perhaps reduce the scope, or postpone certain less critical enhancements or improvements for the time being. Most important, keep the ball rolling on important initiatives in order to not lose momentum, or the equity you have already built toward capturing important relationships and markets.

3. Be proactive in watching for possible defectors

Don’t wait for customer relationships to weaken or, worse, head out the door before you decide to take action on service or quality issues. It takes a long time to build a brand, and a short, short-sited time to damage it unnecessarily and perhaps permanently. Make sure you are asking your customers how you are doing even more now than usual. You can’t afford the loss of revenue or goodwill in an uncertain economy, or a strong economy for that matter, so proactively take steps to manage those relationships well — now.

4. Provide better service

Customers make purchase decisions more deliberately in uncertain times, so give them the service and reasons they need to choose your company over the competition.

5. Provide more information

Customers take even longer to make purchase decisions when times are tough, so continue to fill the gap with a consistent series of messages that provide tangible information on specific benefits that meet their needs.

6. Target the marketing budget

Spend your budget wisely, by shifting dollars to more targeted, measurable programs and communications directed to those customers who are most valuable, or who are most likely to grow in value.

7. Communicate real, tangible value

Clearly communicate value that really matters to your target market in each message, articulating how and why your product or service addresses and answers their concerns and questions, and why it makes the most sense to buy from you.

8. Use customer feedback effectively

Feedback is important, but don’t bother customers with mindless surveys or calls. Make sure your questions are thoughtful and demonstrate that you know what is going on — by addressing what is important to them. When a customer does respond, let them know that their feedback has been received and that it is sincerely appreciated.

9. Invest in innovation

Invest in innovation that is driven by customer feedback during challenging economic times because, while it can not only help lesson the short-term impact, it positions you for a quicker recovery when things turn around and your competitors are just beginning to react.

10. Create memorable experiences

The memory of customers will extend far beyond the end of challenging economic times. They won’t forget the positive actions you take…or forgive you your transgressions and other violations of trust. But they will remember great customer service!

Posted by John Harden  March 27th, 2009

2 Responses to “Win Loyalty Through Great Customer Service”

  1. Gregorio Says:

    Point #8 is the strongest.
    I can’t explain enough to my friends that feedback is very important to gauge our work.
    And us designers should never take it personal.

  2. John Harden Says:

    Good advice to your friends!

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