“You do not make money from growing a crop, you make money from satisfied customers.”
Marketing pros rank customer service right up there in the top three success factors for small business, with quality and confidence. In these competitive times, running a customer-oriented business can make the difference between success and failure. Take a minute to think about your business. What are you doing now to provide the best customer service? How could you make it better?
Customer service should be based on the needs of your customers. It doesn’t matter whether you’re selling your products to grocery stores, wholesale distributors or retail customers. Your success depends on repeat customers. Never forget that a customer’s value is not what they are spending today, but what they might spend over a lifetime as your loyal customer.
One of the reasons many growers enjoy customer loyalty is the personal service that comes from that one-on-one relationship. It could be as simple as remembering a customer preference for a particular variety or size, or it could be free samples of your product.
Don’t forget the 80/20 rule. 80 percent of many businesses can come from just 20% of the customers. That’s why it is important to focus on ways to increase the average sale from those customers. One of the easiest ways to do this is to offer discounts to your customers on large purchases, such as “buy one and get the second at 30% off, for example.
Listen to your customers. A happy customer will tell five friends about your business, while an unhappy one may tell ten! One way to ensure there are no unhappy customers is to have a solid return policy. Offer a refund or replacement to anyone who is not satisfied with their purchase. Put a suggestion box in an easy to find place so customers can give you feedback. You can do that on your web site as well.
Frank Cooper, the author of “The Customer Signs Your Paycheck,” has a checklist for business owners called The 10 Commandments of Customer Relations:
- The customer is never an interruption.
- Greet every customer with a friendly smile.
- Call customers by name.
- Remember, you are the company.
- Never argue with a customer.
- Never say “I don’t know.”
- The customer pays your wages.
- State things in a positive way.
- Brighten every customer’s day.
- Always go the extra mile.