Thursday, 4 October 2012

Customer is King

The customer is always right. An old phrase bandied about for years and years. But you know why some sayings can stick around for a long time without losing their place?

Because they're usually right.

Looking after your customer is the key to any business. Whether you have 2 or 20 million. How you do this will depend entirely on your business and it's model but interaction is very important.

Take sport for example. I know this is the second time Ice Hockey, and more specifically the Coventry Blaze, has been referenced but if someone is doing something right then it's usually a pretty good example.

One of the things the Blaze have done exceptionally well over the last 12 years in Coventry is interact with it's fanbase. The staff know the names of their customers. The players talk to the fans. With the rise of Twitter this has become easier but even without it the players have always socialised with the fanbase after a game. This makes the stars they watch, week in, week out become real people.

I've said it before that people buy from people. If a supporter knows the name of the player, has met his family and this player has given them the time of day the support for the team increases.

The staff take it further than just putting A (the player) in front of B (the supporter) on a gameday. They have initiatives available for kids to be involved, they run events which encourage interaction. I appreciate the likes of Man United will get a full building whether Wayne Rooney ever acknowledges a supporter but minority sports, just like smaller businesses, have to try much harder.

Running events such as Bowling Nights where you get to bowl with your favourite player. This type of interaction will get you the buy in from the customer that you need. You're willing to give them something extra so they're prepared to do it for you, for the team, for the club.

Regular business is no different. We all need to be talking to and interacting with our customers. We need to acknowledge that this person isn't a number...they have a name. Social media has given customers more chance to complain yes, but it has also given businesses the chance to respond. To build trust. To earn respect.

If you follow some general rules your customers should not only be happy but should also be happy enough to refer your business to other. Word of mouth...best way to gain new business!

Be Reachable
Don't hide away in an ivory tower assuming you are beyond touching. People want to speak to you, to interact with you and to hear from you. How you do this is entirely up to you but make sure your customers can get to you in some shape or form

Be Responsive
Never leave an email un-replied, an interaction ignored or a DM left. This person has taken the time to contact you so you can at least take the time to respond. The perception of a company who always communicates is very high.

Be Honest
If you've made a mistake then say so. Everyone is human and there is an expression 'human error' for a reason. Nobody's perfect. Coming out and saying so wont do you any harm whatsoever

Be Outgoing & Friendly
If people buy from people then they're going to buy from a friendly, outgoing, personable person who they want to buy from. Someone who is just a corporate soul is less likely to do well than someone who is real.

As long as you provide a good service, understand your business, understand your customer and their needs and interact with them then you have a good chance of increasing your business.