While United Airlines has recently given us a clinic on how -not- to treat your customers, there are far less obvious ways that you can abuse your customers without even realizing it. We have discussed how important it is to simply recognize your clients on a regular basis and that can cure a lot of evils. Sometimes however other small policies, processes and behaviors can make a client feel that they are not as important to you as they truly are. Here are a few to watch out for:
1) Billing policies that frustrate your customers – You may have a certain way you do your billing such as multiple times per month or separate invoices for separate projects which might make sense to you, but may be frustrating your your customers. Talk to them about what works for them and if its not difficult to accommodate their requests, you should try to do so.
2) Service delays and reschedules – While most people understand that sometimes things happen that cause you to be late for or reschedule an appointment, giving your customer the most lead time as possible is critical to ensuring that they don’t hold it against you. Additionally, if you do have a delay once, be careful not to let it happen multiple times in a row or they could start feeling like second class citizens.
3) Answer the phone – Seems simple but many businesses try to eliminate “interruptions” for their employees by letting phones go through a phone tree or straight to voicemail. It would be hard to find anyone who hasn’t been annoyed by getting this response as a customer of some business. While it may not be possible to answer every call on the first ring, answering as often as possible and dealing with your customer’s issues when they are thinking about them goes a long way.
4) Listen to everyone at your customer’s business – While the owner of the business may pay the bills, every employee at your customer’s business gets a voice in how they purchase goods and services. Even if it is simply to avoid hearing the “noise”, a customer could change suppliers if their employees are frustrated with the service they receive.
These are just a few ways to help ensure you are providing the best service that you can. Look for opportunities in your organization to avoid falling into silent pitfalls. Oh yea, and also, don’t beat them up and drag them across the floor. That clearly does not go over well either.
Michael Giuffrida from Southington CT has been operating businesses since 1997. He is an experienced entrepreneur in business management, profitable growth, business valuation, mergers and acquisitions, and information technology managed services.