A recipe for great customer relationships
Customers will be the most rewarding part of your business, but also the most challenging at times. So, I thought I’d share a few tips to help you avoid customer conflicts and maintain great customer relationships.
1. Choose Your Customers Wisely
The key to serving your customers well is finding the right ones in the first place.
Most start-ups promote their business to anyone and everyone – anyone within earshot becomes their target market, this is a mistake. If you are constantly trying to serve people who are the wrong fit for your business, it will always be hard for you to deliver a great level of service.
For example; my husband and I started a website business for a niche market a few years ago, our goal was to provide high quality websites at a low price, but in order to keep the price low we had to standardise our offerings and remove high touch customer service. However, we found that a number of our clients wanted the extra low price but still demanded a very high level of service. In essence the customers we were trying to serve were the wrong fit for our business model, don’t make the same mistake.
Focus on connecting with potential customers who fit your business and you’ll be able to serve profitably. Spend some time asking yourself questions such as:
- How old are they typically?
- What is their average income?
- Are they likely to be married or single? Children or not?
- Where do they hang out on the internet and off?
- How do they prefer receive information?
- What do they look for in businesses they buy from? etc.
The point; is not every customer is right for you, some customers will simply cause you more pain that profit. So, it’s important to ask;
What type of customers do I not want to do business with?
Always remember the 80/20 rule—for a lot of established business 80% of revenues will come from 20% of their customers. It is therefore vital to choose that 20% wisely. The right customers are those who will benefit your business as much as your business benefits them. Win-win for both parties.
2. Set Expectations
Set clear expectations at the beginning of any new customer relationship to avoid conflict later down the line. Be very clear about what your service is, what you deliver and the results they can expect. Often challenges occur when the service customers receive does not match what they expected. A rule of thumb is to create contracts and standard documents (even if you are dealing with a friend or a family member) which illustrate your deliverables and expected results. This will be very useful, especially if there are discrepancies following the execution of a service. Actual and expected results must be understood by both parties.
3. Establish Boundaries
Arguably one of the biggest challenges for me and other entrepreneurs I know, is finding ways to maintain a good balance between work life and family life. But find balance we must, setting boundaries with our customers can help significantly.
It’s critical to acknowledge that exceptional service doesn’t mean 24hr service.
Establish boundaries in your business, set respectable opening/closing hours and respect them, your clients will respect you for it.
4. Be comfortable with the notion of serving others
The greatest leaders have a heart to serve others, whether that’s directly themselves or fostering a culture of serving others in their organisation as it grows. It doesn’t matter how much our businesses turnover, it’s important to remember that without customers we have no businesses!
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