Staying in touch with our clients and customers

 

If you have a good relationship with your customers they just keep coming back

If you have a good relationship with your customers they just keep coming back

One way and another, this past year or so my family and I have seen a lot of doctors and nurses. On the whole we have been dealt with very well, but sometimes we have had to take the initiative in asking for help. That has been rather frustrating because we would all rather have our affairs managed by professionals rather than have to manage those professionals to have them provide their services to us.

If we are regular clients we expect our professional and many other service providers to be proactive and stay in touch, so that we do not have to ask. Not always, of course. For most people, a lawyer will be reactive because we go to her for help when we need it. That is the same as the local dry cleaner. If a suit needs cleaning we take it in. That’s it.

However, if we are accountants or opticians or dentists or business advisers, at the very least we need to check in with our clients regularly to see how they are doing and to remind them if they need to take action on something. I think we should make a point of speaking to them regularly. In other words, we need to maintain the relationship. Our clients and customers are our livelihood and they are people too, who like to feel wanted.

For other service providers it is worth making the effort to stay in touch with their customers. I appreciate even a Christmas card from the local curry house but I do not recommend just sending round-robin emails as a way of maintaining a relationship. Newsletters are useful but are no substitute for the personal touch.

In the same way that I would like our local doctors’ practice to invite us in for the regular health checks we are supposed to have but do not, surely we should all think regularly about all our clients’ needs and speak to them, whether visiting or on the phone?

Is not just being reactive a serious failing for so many in business? Are you proactive? How often to you call your clients or customers?

Just trying to keep my customers satisfied

Jetty & lifeboat ramp, St. Catherine's Bay, Jersey

Jetty & lifeboat ramp, St. Catherine’s Bay, Jersey

Paul Simon wrote a song with the title of this post. You and I know that if our customers are not satisfied they will take their business elsewhere, so it is important that we keep them happy.

Do our employees, and all those who work for us follow that ethos? One bad experience of a rude and unpleasant worker can send away future buyers of our products and services, and they will never return.

Recently my wife and I were accompanying my elderly parents on a short flight from our local airport to Jersey, which up to now I had thought was excellent. My father is ninety-one, and a sharp cookie, still very on the ball and knowledgeable, but he is not able to walk far without assistance, and he is rather deaf. While going through security on our outbound flight, my Dad rang the bell, which turned out to be because he had some keys in his back pocket. That is an easy mistake to make. I once turned up at an airport with a pair of kitchen scissors in my pocket I had used to open a bag of cat litter for our cat sitter on the way out of the door.

Anyway, I had passed security by the time my Dad rang the bell, and I could see he was left standing and rather confused, because he could not heat what the male security person had said to him. Dad looked very uncomfortable because his walking stick had been taken from him to be X-rayed. After a minute I could see he was unsteady and frankly bewildered and lost, so I walked back to him and asked if he was OK, and whether I could help.

At this point the security person drew himself up to his full height and puffed himself up, and barked to me in his best nightclub-bouncer-bully mode “Move away”, and when I said that Dad needed help, “Move away now”. I did because I feared we would have a major incident, but I was very worried about my Dad. After a couple more minutes he was cleared to join us.

I appreciate that security people have a job to do, but even the most dyed-in-the-wool “jobs-worth”should treat people correctly according to the circumstances and in this case:

  • Treat an elderly man with respect.
  • Take account of evident frailties.
  • Treat his well-meaning son with respect (and indeed any customer with good intentions).

An out-of-control employee can potentially drive away a large number of customers; both those who are witnesses to any incident and those who hear about it later.

I have written to Southend Airport to suggest they consider sending their employee for some suitable training.

Of course security personnel have to deal with all sorts of bad attitudes, and must adapt their behaviour accordingly. There is no excuse for treating without sympathy, compassion and understanding elderly people who have served and fought for their country

Have you seen a more effective way of damaging your market than this?

Note:

I have received a response to my complaint, the gist of which is that they apologise for having upset my family and me. There is no indication that they acknowledge that mistakes were made or that they will address their problem. It is not a response that helps customer relations as far as I am concerned.

Have you received unsatisfactory feedback when complaining to a service supplier? What did you do?

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Service continuity, customer expectation and being as comfortable as an old shoe

 

Think about the customer's needs!

Think about the customer’s needs!

Our regular clients expect from us an excellent service and it is up to us to live up to their expectation. That does not mean that we never change what we do for them. In the last decade, advances in technology have allowed us to make improvements. We can email documents (in my case accounts and Tax Returns) which means we can be even quicker, and to use nineties jargon, provide a smarter service.

Of course not all clients are computer literate, so we still provide them with paper copies of what they need, and even if they do like to communicate by email but want us to provide paper copies of everything, of course we oblige. We have to sacrifice the odd tree to keep the customer satisfied, but it is our business and therefore in our best interests to do so.

What clients do not like is change. I do not like it either when new Government impositions oblige us to involve our clients in red tape, but we have to live with it.

What the customer does not like to experience is a change of service where they do not get what they had before, but something different. It is rather like I feel in the supermarket when I enjoy a new range of tea they have or like their bran flakes, and then suddenly they no longer have those lines and I have to buy something else. There is a feeling of dissatisfaction, and I look in other supermarkets to get what I like. So clients might look to another provider to replace what we might have stopped giving them and which they really liked.

Clients do not like change. They like the comfort of being able to rely on a service like an old shoe.

We should not be resistant to advancing our business practice, but don’t you agree change should not be for the sake of change?

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