Permit me to serve you on business strategy
The power embedded in this ‘simple’ phrase cannot be over-stressed in the “business strategy” world, but truth be told, it is more said than practised. Serving customers should be the language of every business that wants to remain profitable and relevant in society. But, unfortunately, companies are more profit-oriented than serving the needs of their customers, which could cause a decrease in profit made over time. So, before diving into this topic, we must first define this business strategy called customer service.
Customer service is “the act of taking care of the customer’s needs by providing and delivering professional, helpful, high-quality service and assistance before, during, and after the customer’s requirements met” (Paul McKinney). Therefore, when brainstorming on business strategy, ensure you do not centre on just providing and delivering services but also develop a business strategy that would help you keep tabs on your customers to ensure your products or services solve their needs.
How to know if you have met your customer’s needs:
It is safe to say that you have identified and figured out your customers’ needs, and now, you want to know if you successfully met them. At this stage, if you are asking yourself, “what are my customer’s needs?” we apologize, but this statement is not for you. You need first to identify what your customers need and proffer solutions, and only then can you study the market to know if you indeed meet their needs or not.
Now, all successful businesses identify potential customers and their needs before developing a tailored business strategy to meet them. At least, can we be safe to say you know your customers? If yes, here are two ways you can identify the needs of your customers:
You cannot be knowledgeable about a subject matter or persons without having an inquisitive mind. In the quest of being curious, you get to know more about your customers. Hence, you would be able to offer personalized customer service needed. For instance, Coca-Cola’s Share a Coke campaign was inspired by their inquisitive mind. After inquiring of customers on how to serve them better, they came up with this campaign to personalize their brand with the identity of each customer. Thus, the inquisitive mind brought them an award-winning campaign.
Social media platforms provide an avenue for you to get personal with your customers and gather their information. Via this platform, you can gain insight into your customers’ likes, habits, and what they are buying. Adopt posts to attract them into answering questions on what they like and what they dislike about your business. Surveys are also suitable for getting honest feedback from your customers and gaining specific information about their needs and wants. For instance, you see Google adopt this method by strategically showing questions for its user to answer while browsing. This survey would be compiled and studied to improve their customer service.
You can also distribute your email address to all your customers so they can write to you about how to better serve them; this feedbacks need studying, and if you realize you are no longer meeting their needs, develop new strategies to meet these needs, and if you are meeting their needs, you should not get too comfortable instead, find creative ways of keeping your customers and getting new ones who would stay loyal.
Why customer service is relevant:
Every business enjoys more credit than debited when looking at the company’s financial report, and I am sure you are no different (hey, I am not judging, I come bearing good news). The good news is that well-strategized customer service boosts your sales and increases your profit. Here are some of the things you stand to gain when you embrace customer service as a business strategy:
Good customer service tuns prospects to repeat customers and then loyal customers. Therefore, investing a meaningful percentage in customer service can decrease your churn rate, which in turn reduces the amount you spend on acquiring new customers and drops the overall CAC (Customer Acquisition Cost) (Setha American).
Good brand representation:
In the digital marketing world, businesses create awareness for their business vision, image, and value via social media presence, advertisements, content, and external marketing, but what if I tell you, these are not enough, and you can speak directly to your customers? Yes, do not doubt it. Good customer service gives you control over customers’ perceptions; since you now interact directly with customers (thanks to customer service), you get to educate and inform them of what your business entails and not what they see in the media. There is this power that one-on-one communication has against mass communication because the former allows you to feel your customers’ reactions. You can also correct misconceptions about your business and convince them of your strengths over your competitors.
Treat yours well:
Since we are discussing customer service, let us talk about your employees. Your employees are your first publics. Hence, there is a need for fair treatment. No reasonable employee relations equal no good customer service. Ask yourself, “who makes up the customer service team?”
A dependable staff you trust to handle the section of customer service in your organization cannot portray a good image of your business if they are not well treated. Therefore, make your staff happy, respected, and appreciated. Remember, when your team is treated well by you, they go the extra mile for you and your business. Therefore, satisfied customer service staff equals happy customers.
Happy customers do your job:
When your customers feel happy, they most likely spread the good news to their friends, family, neighbours, co-workers, and whoever cares to listen. Imagine customers’ positive experiences with your brand airs with to at least six persons. After that, you might not require brand publicity for a while.
Your Business strategy becomes a pacesetter for other businesses:
Could we not pretend that one of the significant reasons you went into business was to make a profit? Now, imagine about 70% of your customers pledging loyalty to you and even taking a step further, willing to pay more for your products and services. Customer service makes customers know that they are part of your business community. Hence, they begin to feel among and would be willing to pay more to interact with your brand.
If pleasing your customers could get them willing to pay more for your products or services, your guess is as good as mine, and you would become the alpha and pacesetter in your business sector; your empathy towards customers would create space for you in ‘upper room.’
As earlier stated, some businesses are profit-oriented, missing opportunities to identify and meet the needs of their customers, which would, in turn, persuade customers to keep purchasing your brand, making them loyal and testifiers of professionalism.
As a customer-oriented business, you stand to enjoy free publicity and testimonials of loyal customers who have repeatedly made use of your brand and had their needs met. These customers would refer your brand to people who fall into the same market your brand satisfies. For instance, McDonald’s is a restaurant that has its branch in over 119 countries and territories around the world. This success could be said to be an achievement, but the actual achievement is their customer relations. McDonald’s has become a household name across the globe thanks to its strong cultural bond with customers.
Despite being a business, they operate as a community catering and respecting their global customers’ values, beliefs, and assumptions. All these have shaped their business values and goals into ensuring they respect tribes, religions, personalities, and customers at large.
To satisfy customers, Hamburger University set up to train unskilled people to follow the McDonald’s formula. Through this, there would be consistency in the hamburger’s preparation, serving, taste, and quality control across the globe.
Some recommended customer service business strategies:
As a business, you need to acquire the ability to understand and share your customers’ feelings. Do not be blinded by profit-making, that you fail to understand why your customers act the way they do. This information would also help you relate with them better, and you would know how best to serve them and their needs.
A smile on your face would without force or doubt compel smiles on the faces of your audience. So, with a smile on your face, greet your customers and attend to them without forgetting to be respectful no matter how angry or disappointed they seem to be.
Yes, you could say you have the answers to all their inquiries because the products and services come from you, but it would not be wrong to listen to them open-heartedly and carefully share light to any confusion. Also, document all feedbacks, study them, and improve on your lapses.
Always appreciate your customers with “thank you” and “I am appreciative” no matter how many times it is said. Go personal by sending handwritten notes, appreciative emails, special offers, and discounts just to let your customers know you do not take their purchase or interest in your business for granted.
You could visit customers either at their homes, offices, or any location; this would confirm your interest in them. Taking time to study your customers, knowing their locations and other information captures your claim in your customers.
Keep your word:
As an individual, your word matters, how much more a brand. Customers hold tight to your words, and you fail to keep your word outrightly question your credibility. But, on the other hand, keeping your promises helps build trust and worthiness. Your words are commitments, and your commitments are promises.
Keep tabs on your customers:
Customer service is a 360-business process that starts before purchasing products and services, down to post-purchase experience. After purchase, ensure you follow up with your customers to know their feedback concerning your products and services.
After a long absence of customers, reach out to them, not to get them to purchase your products or services, but because you genuinely care about them and want to know how they are faring.
Ask for feedback:
Questions like, “How may I serve you better?” are an excellent way to start. Asking customers for feedback creates the impression that you care about their opinions and want to be helpful. Another beautiful thing you stand to gain is customers’ anticipation of improving your product or service.
After retrieving feedback, it is only logical to say that customers would expect a reflection of their answers in your product or service. For example, imagine your customers’ request how they desire you to serve them better; they would be expecting their responses to improve your delivery. Hence, they would be anticipating your improvement and ready to purchase (if you truly meet up to their expectations).
To remain relevant in the business world, ensure you have good customer relations coupled with good customer service because these strategies speak more words to customers about your brand than advertisements, social media campaigns, press releases, and others you can ever say or think.
In conclusion, we hope you will find these bits helpful in fulfilling your business plans and goals while we encourage you to put the strategies to proper use.
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