December 2015 – Customer Service Reigns Supreme
ATTENTION: Business Editor, Consumer Editor
Customer Service Reigns Supreme
Providing outstanding service to customers is the cornerstone of any business’s success. After all, without customers, there is no business. But home-based entrepreneurs may have trouble maintaining proper customer service because they lack the resources and staff of larger companies. According to Ken Mulhall, president of the Direct Sellers Association of Canada, a few simple steps will help home businesspeople keep track of their customers, and keep them satisfied. The Association, formed in 1954, represents 37 companies and their close to 600,000 independent sales contractors (ISCs) from coast to coast. Members’ sales of goods and services amounted to more than $1.2 billion in 2014.
According to a study by the Forum Corporation, a U-S based business consulting firm, 49 per cent of customers leave because of poor service – another 20 per cent leave because of a lack of contact and individual attention from their suppliers. The key ingredient to customer service is information – the customer’s contact data, what they purchased, when they purchased it, their favourite items, when they were last contacted, and the like. “These facts can be kept in something as complex as a computer database, or a simple as a card index file,” says Mulhall.
“And it’s important to set aside a regular time each month to keep that file updated.”
That data can be used for a variety of customer service purposes. For example, customer orders should be followed by some form of thank-you note for their patronage. “This type of follow-up is rare in the retail industry,” notes Mulhall, “but that personal touch can make all the difference in the world for a person running a home-based business.” The customer information on file is a valuable tool for continuing contact with those who have purchased products in the past. Based upon the information collected, the home-based businessperson can target the timing and nature of the callbacks.
“Keep in touch with them on a regular basis to check whether they need to re-order products, or to offer new goods or services that may be of interest to them,” suggests Mulhall.
“This repeat business can be your most valuable asset.” Mulhall also recommends that customer complaints be dealt with immediately and decisively. “Be polite and sympathetic to those who have complaints and, if there is any doubt whatsoever, always decide in favour of your customer,” he says.
“It takes much more work to overcome a customer’s negative image of your business than it does to simply resolve their concerns.”
For more information, contact:
Ken Mulhall, President
Direct Sellers Association of Canada