January 6, 2013

Appreciation Marketing – Take Care of the Customer



Many people cannot get through the holiday season without ordering something from Land’s End. They have great products and prices, a wonderful return policy, and ordering online is so easy. Their customer service philosophy, as stated by their founder, Gary Comer, is “Take care of the customer, and the rest will take care of itself.” I cannot think of a better way to describe a winning customer service policy. Their business is built on repeat customers.

Does this mean that you have to give away everything to please a customer? No, it means that you must do what you have agreed to do when you market whatever you have to a client. Just do your job, whatever that is. When you agree to deliver a certain product at a certain price, at a certain time, then do so. Do not substitute anything or allow any deviation in what you promised versus what you deliver, or when, or for what price. You made a promise, a commitment; keep it. To do less in any way would be a violation of that commitment.

Customer service starts with your marketing. If you do your marketing correctly, sales will “fall into your lap”. You’ll have clients to service, and referrals from those clients or from the prospects who don’t buy from you for some reason. It doesn’t matter who they are, market professionally, with customer service in mind, and you will either receive a sale or a referral, or both. Even if someone doesn’t become a client, will they pass you a referral based on their trust and enthusiasm in your marketing process? While you market your product or service, you also must market yourself and your professionalism.

Honesty, even if it is not what the prospect wants to hear, must a factor in your marketing. Professionalism does not mean “hedging your words” or telling prospects what they want to hear. Listen to them and, if you have what they need, market to them with absolute truth and honesty. That includes what you tell them about your product or service, options, prices required, delivery times, and whatever follow-up that you provide. Do not hedge your words; be blunt, direct, and honest. Then do it; do your job to the best of your ability.

After delivery, you must follow-up with your client, verifying that they understand their purchase and how to use it. If they do not understand, they will not be happy, and will never recommend you or buy from you again. Make sure the client is comfortable asking questions and answer them. Professionalism includes complete follow-up.

If you, or your business, erred and did not do something that you should have done, you must take ownership of the error, fix it to the satisfaction of the sales contract, or beyond, and then take steps to prevent that error from reoccurring. The client’s comfort with your actions will allow them to be comfortable with referring your business to others in the future.

Your follow-up does not end here; you must confirm that the client continues to be satisfied with their purchase. Initial satisfaction can wane, and their enthusiasm will wane also. You must follow-up and keep the relationship healthy. That may lead to additional sales, or upgrades, which cements the relationship. Referrals will follow from these relationships.

Your marketing begins with the initial client meeting and continues throughout the relationship between the client and your business. Appreciation Marketing builds these relationships. Leave me your comments, or call me at 360-314-8691, or email me at Jim@SOC4Now.com. Solid, rewarding relationships are the wonderful result of Appreciation Marketing. Your business and personal lives will benefit greatly from them.

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