Keeping Your Customers

Not so many years ago, most parking bays used to have oil spots.  From the early days of the motor industry it was tacitly accepted that engines would leak. Not much – just enough to be irritating. Customers didn’t like it – but that’s the way it was. Salesmen even suggested that customers buy small drip trays to solve the problem!

Then the Japanese started building motorbike engines that didn’t leak – and the world sat up and took notice. Goodbye drip-trays, goodbye unsightly stains, goodbye dirty engines. And before long Japanese built engines were dominating sales, and the traditional European and American manufacturers were scrambling to save the situation. But it was too late – their customers were flocking away in droves. All because of those little drips of oil.

The same thing is usually true with your customers. The things that chase them away are not major, but are rather an accumulation of little irritants – like little drips of oil on their driveways.

In essence – business relationships are just like personal ones – people stick around when they are happy.  Sadly, most of the time companies are not even aware of the little things that are causing unhappiness. Or they try to compensate by giving customers “specials” to defuse the situation. Banks seem to be infamous for this. How long did it take for them to extend business hours, to be open when it suited YOU?  Even now, not all have got on the bandwagon.

I chatted with my bank about this about 15 years ago, on return from a trip overseas. Why, I asked, do you open late, close early, and let your staff go on lunch during our lunch hour – the only time we have to do business with you? And why do you let dozens of clients - even old people, and mothers with babies - stand for hours in queues?  Why is there no seating? No public conveniences? On a couple of occasions I actually created a fuss over these irritations – and put it in writing. I’m not claiming credit – but my bank now has extended trading hours, comfortable seating, and tries very hard to ensure waiting time is minimal. And I’m sure they are reaping the benefits. The only thing that concerns me – it took them so long to get “with it”.  My new beef is about online security concerns. Will it take to get a solution? Time will tell.  Having a monopoly has advantages that the ordinary business can only dream of.

Be that as it may – how is your business shaping up? If you disguised yourself, and did business with your own company incognito – would you enjoy the experience?  Or, would you notice little irritants?

As a business owner, should it concern you if your products / services have little “drips” – minor things that peeve your customers? It should. Regaining a customer, or finding a new one, costs up to ten times more than keeping the existing ones happy.  And – what chance do you realistically have of regaining a customer if the drips – the irritations – are still there?

The European and American bike manufacturers woke up – too late. You don’t want to follow their example. Look around, see things from your customer’s viewpoint. Or – ask. Far too often sales people are trying to sell more – when they should listen more. And, once you know what’s causing unhappiness or irritation – it is normally not difficult or expensive to fix it.  The rewards are huge: your public image improves, you have happy customers singing your praises, and your staff morale improves. There are fewer complaints to deal with, so staff can focus on productive (and profitable) activities.


Questions to ask yourself:

  1. Is there a system in place to record, track and monitor customer complaints?
  2. Are sales staff listening, and providing honest feedback back to management?
  3. Are customers invited and encouraged to tell you where you can improve?
  4. Are your business processes simple, easy-to-use and friendly?


                              And - have a great business day!

 PS: are you still managing your customers the old, manual, labour intensive way?  There are lots of good CRM packages available, letting you accomplish more with less effort. If you’d like to look at CRM and its benefits, download a package from our CRM download page today.   Read more / download link:   CRM - Customer Management

~ by HF Hudson, for Bridge Business Solutions, 2006 – 2013