I was sent a short article on the importance of customer service and the damage dissatisfied customers can do to a business by Elaine Fogel. I was not very clear on that my blog is focused specifically on getting new customers so I got a guest post from her that did not really fit with my blog. Initially I was going to ask her to rewrite it or write a new one and then I realized the content she provided would create a great article for how small businesses can get more customers. So instead I have decided to leave her article intact and then explain how you can use this information to get more customers for your business.
Why Putting the Customer at The Center of Your Business is an Absolute Must!
We hear and read a lot about customer service, customer loyalty, the customer experience, and a host of other marketing buzz words these days. But, why all the attention? Most small businesses know that service is their strength and competitive edge. But, do they do it?
Let’s take a logical approach to this:
- Going after a new customer costs 5 times as much as keeping an existing one.
- About 13% of dissatisfied customers tell more than 20 people. (And with social media, imagine how many people are hearing these complaints now?)
- 91% of unhappy customers will not willingly do business with you again.
Losing a customer is a disaster to a small business. (Minus the pesky ones you’d rather fire.)
Take a look at their lifetime value. How much business could they represent in the next year? Five years? Ten? If that figure is substantial, then go back to the beginning. Put your customers at the center of everything you do. Your operations, sales, marketing, customer service, ... No customers...no revenue...no food on the table. It’s fairly simple.
One mantra to remember: Treat every customer like your grandma. With kindness, attention, compassion, understanding, patience, responsiveness, and warmth. When you mess up, apologize and make things right, even if it means losing some money. Then don’t make the same mistakes twice.
Being customer-centric is more than simple actions; it’s a feeling. Love your customers as you love thyself. (Wasn’t that in the bible?) Putting the customer at the center of your small business is an absolute must! If you don’t, they’ll be running to the Wal-Mart’s of the world before you can blink.
Elaine Fogel is president and CMO of SOLUTIONS Marketing & Consulting in Scottsdale, Arizona. An ex-pat Canadian, she is a professional speaker, contributor/blogger for MarketingProfs, a writer, and marketing consultant. You can read her blog at Totally Uncorked on Marketing.
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As you can see, having dissatisfied customers can be very damaging for your business. So how can you use this to get more customers for your business. Easy, under promise and over deliver to existing customers so that your customers are always delighted, never dissatisfied, and meet the needs of the dissatisfied customers of your competition. Like Elaine says the golden rule is the key to customer satisfaction. In the bible it says that when one of the teachers asked Jesus what of all the commandments was the greatest he responded. "“The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. The second is this: Love your neighbor as yourself.’There is no commandment greater than these.” - Mark 12:29-31. I would have to say that I agree the golden rule brings applies and brings good to all aspects of life, including business.
The Value Of Previously Dissatisfied Prospects
Dissatisfied customers are valuable for many reasons. First, you can gain great insight from them in terms of what the market values. This information will be invaluable in improving your marketing and also your development of new products and services.
They are also valuable because when selling to a dissatisfied customer of your competition it is also much easier to sell to them because they are acting on emotion, not rationale. In general they are often less costly to attract an maintain because they are desperately seeking an alternative and ready to buy. All they are concerned about is getting out of their bad situation. When you are dealing with a prospect like this it becomes very easy to sell.
The other benefits of gaining a dissatisfied customer from your competition is that you might be able to gain competitive information from your new customer about your competition, if you prove to be truly better than your competition they will feel very satisfied and become very loyal to your company, they may even turn into a positive spokes person for your company. The likelihood of this is much higher with a dissatisfied customer from your competition as they will always have the contrast in service ingrained in their memory and to refer to when telling people about your company. A perfect example of this is how one time when I was about 16 I went to a CIBC bank to do some banking. I got there at 4:35 and the bank had already closed. As a result I had to spend another hour coordinating a time to go to that bank because non of the locations were convenient for me. I compared this to the other bank I did business with where I could go in up until 6:00pm on Mon-Wed and up to 8:00pm on Thur and Fridays. It was a small inconvenience but a frustrating one, especially when that would never happen at my other bank. As a result I vowed to never to banking with CIBC again and instead tell people any chance I get about how great TD is. Single handed I think I have convinced about 10 people to use TD for either their chequing, savings or to acquire a mortgage.
Winning a dissatisfied customer from your competition is a highly valuable customer.
Where To Hunt For Previously Dissatisfied Prospects
To be honest the easiest is probably to have them find you. If they are dissatisfied that that means they will probably actively search out an alternative solution and you have to do is make yourself easy to find. This is easier said than done, but having a great website, that is actively adding new content is the first place to start as 93% of business to business purchase decisions start with a search on Google or another search engine. As always I advise clients to invest heavily in their website so that they come up more often and higher for more relevant search phrases. Being easily found online is only once piece to the puzzle. The rest is all the rest of your marketing that makes people aware that you exist, any marketing you can do that will associate you with what you do will be beneficial. If you sell tires and the first alternative company a dissatisfied customer of your competitor thinks about is yours, you can bet you will be getting a call.
Another interesting strategy is to have an agreement with your competitor(s) that you will send clients that are unhappy with you to them and vice versa. This would simply be setting up an arrangement of calling the competitor to suggest to them to give a dissatisfied customer of yours a call and vice versa. The beauty of this is that you get ride of your dissatisfied customers that are going to leave you anyways, you get some new customers in return, and your customers are also happier. As long as you provide better service than your competitors you will also come out ahead. This will not work if you do not have good relations with your competitors or you do not have any competitors you feel comfortable doing this with.
Ask all new prospects that are switching to you from your competitors what they did not like about your competitor. This will give you great insight to what your competitors weaknesses is and will give you great ideas for what should be included in your marketing messaging.
Finally try and think about where dissatisfied customers would go or would be and marketing marketing to this group of prospects. For example if your competitor serves a specific geographic area target the prospects that are located at the fringe of their service area. They may be unhappy with the longer time it takes to get a service call. If you competitor has a weakness providing service to a particular industry, that you commonly hear complaints from, target that industry in your marketing efforts. Maybe dissatisfied customers in your industry file complaints with a specific organization or networking groups. Find these groups and organizations and get involved so that you can connect with these dissatisfied customers of your competition. And lastly, search social media for mentions of your competition by disgruntled customers or your competition. I guarantee you that if you contact them when they are dissatisfied they will be happy to hear from you.
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My name is Chris R. Keller. I work at Profitworks Small Business Services helping various B2B small businesses in Waterloo and Kitchener Ontario generate new customers. Feel free to connect with me on Google+ or if you are just interested in getting new customers for your B2B small businesses enter your email in the box provided below and click the "Send Me Free Updates" button.
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I hope you have enjoyed this article on dissatisfied customers and how to get more customers. As always I love to feature guest posts on my blog. If you would like to write an article that is on a topic that is related to getting new customers, and have expertise to share, I would love to feature you. If you are interested just contact me and let me know what you would like to write on.