It happens all the time. Sales people (and often their managers) believe they have the most unreasonable, impossible to please, beyond demanding customer(s). You know the kind, the ones that expect way too much and are never grateful for all the value you have delivered in the past.
Respectfully, we disagree. These are the very same customers that your competition would L.O.V.E. love to have and if you’re not careful, they soon will. It’s really simple; you are not doing what you need to do and it begins with adopting this attitude:
A customer is the most important person in our company. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so.
This statement is timeless and has been attributed to the success of many organizations. If you buy into this principle as the starting point for strong customer relationships, below are five surefire ways to create happy and loyal customers.
If you don’t agree that you should adopt this principle, you should read How to Recover From a Major Customer Loss.
Your customers have choices and for some reason they have chosen you. It’s up to you to fully understand why they chose you and what real problem they were you expecting you would solve for them.
Take a moment and reflect on what your product or service is specifically doing to impact your customer’s business results. What current problem are you solving or future problem are you preventing? As an example, one of Butler Street’s offerings is Sales Effectiveness Training. We could be solving for a lack of revenue growth, or we could be solving a scalability problem, or lack of sales leadership or strategy, or customer churn, or sales rep retention, etc. It’s specific to each customer and we know that they expect us to understand their problem and connect our solution(s) to it in order to solve it. That is not demanding or unreasonable, it’s simply part of the value they expect.
Speaking of value, our research division has analyzed our database of Voice of the Customer Surveys, along with Net Promoter Score feedback across multiple industries and customer segments and here are the top 5 things they expect from you to remain happy and loyal:
Understand my needs and wants We call this getting in the customer’s operating reality. Don’t assume you know their needs and wants and also don’t assume that they don’t change over time.You must have a process to consistently discuss their business needs, the challenges they face and initiatives they have to compete in their market place.
Know how your services can best connect to my needs so you can solve current problems and prevent future problems Your customer needs to know how giving you their money will solve their current problems and prevent future problems. They need to have facts and data and metrics and ROI insights so they can fully understand and validate the value you bring. This should be done at least once a quarter. (Recommended video: What is the MOST Important Business Meeting You Must Have With Your Client)
Make it easy to communicate with you. Create a point of contact for me and be my advocate within your organization If you are hard to do business with, no matter how great your product or service is, you will probably lose the client. No one wants or needs friction in their lives, particularly from someone they are paying. Do you have operational issues that bug your customers (like getting the invoicing wrong, or shipment delays, or putting them into voice-mail hell?). If you do, you need to fix it fast.
Be the expert. Keep me up to date on what’s happening in the industry and how a partnership with your organization helps put me in the best position to get strong business results Understand this. Your competition would love to have your customer and how they are trying to steal them away is by positioning themselves as the best in the industry. Are you treating your customer like you treat your biggest target? Keep them informed; be their eyes and ears, educate them – keep them on the cutting edge before someone else does.
Provide a total solution If you can do more, do more. Everyone today is challenged to do more with less and customer partnerships are no different. No one wants more vendors, more relationships to manage, more meetings to have. Cross-sell all your services and innovate ways to do more to provide a total solution for your clients.
Notice that the “lowest price” is not on this list. Not once did any customer state in our VOC or NPS results that the reason they were promoters or happy with their current partner was because they got the lowest price. 100% of the time it was about value. Keep this in mind: your pricing is a direct reflection of your ability to deliver value.
If you can’t properly address these top 5 items, then you aren’t delivering value. Your difficult and demanding customers are giving you a cry for help. If you don’t respond, they will likely leave you; then how would you feel?
Butler Street specializes in client development. We have tools and training to help you and your teams keep your clients happy and keep your clients. Click here for a demo of our best in class Account Management tool, ClientFit.