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Customer Service -- Key To Business Success

By Larry Lim - MarketingSphere

"There is only one valid definition of business purpose: to create a customer. It is the customer who determines what a business is. What the business think it produces is not of first importance - especially not to the future of the business and to its success. What the customer thinks he is buying and considers 'value' is decisive - it determines what a business is, what it produces and whether it will prosper." - as summarized by Peter Drucker, 1989,(3).

In the past, what happened was that a business just produced a product and sold it to the customer. Oftentimes, it was just a one-shot deal and a case of 'just too bad for the customer' if something went wrong.

The scenario is radically different in today's hyper-competitive business environment. Customers are continuously adapting to their ever-changing einvironments. They're now more educated, better informed, more value conscious and demand more for their dollar. Their expectations of the companies and the people they buy from is much higher and they tend to avoid buyer-seller negotiations. They're no longer willing to be pushed around anymore by businesses. In short, they want better customer service.

Importance of Customer Service

Customer service is one of the greatest keys to your business success. It can literally make or break you. This is so because your entire business, marketing, sales and profits depend on your customers. You're in business to generate profits by selling your products and servcies to people who need and want to buy. Customers want to know how you can make their lives better or easier and/or how you can relieve them of their pain.

It follows that whatever you do must be carefully designed to meet and satisfy the needs of your customers as it's the foundation for a growing and profitable business. The decision you make must be based on the situation, what the customers want and how it affects your business. Treat every service situation as unique. Interact with each customer as an individual and treat him/her that way he or she wants to be treated.

Great marketing acquires new customers for you, but it's great customer service that ensures that the customers keep coming back to you as people tend to do business with people they like and trust, and therefore, are more likely to be loyal and continue to buy from those who provide them with excellent customer service.

Surveys have shown that most customers quit because of an indifferent attitude towards them from the business owner, managers and/or employees. A typical business will only hear from a handful of dissatisfied customers; most of your customers will just quietly go away and never come back.

To further compound the problem, a typical dissatisfied customer will tell an average of 7 to 10 people about his problem and your bad service.

This is a serious financial loss for those of you who don't know how to treat your customers right; for those who do, it represents a tremendous gain.

Implications for Large and Small Businesses

In light of these, not many business can succeed for any length of time without the comprehensive care and diligent servicing of their customers.

To a large extent, customer service has levelled the playing field for the small business owners who sell similar products as their bigger competitors. It opens up a treasure chest of opportunities. It provides them with the opportunity to differentiate themselves from the competition.

For large companies, they'll need to act fast to accommodate the customers by revisiting and fine-tuning their policies and procedures. They musn't let inflexible rules and regulations, policies and procedures stop them from making their customer satisfied.

Total Customer Satisfaction Program

Rosenberg, 1996, (1) defined that customer satisfaction is the degree to which a customer's expectations of a product or service are inline with what the product provides.

To address the ever-changing customer demands, the answer lies in implementing a total customer satisfaction program. A program that shift the paradigm from product centric to customer relationship centric. A program that provides the competitive edge to your customers and is designed to help you gain, and retain customers for life.

A total customer satisfaction program benefits you in several ways:

  • increase repeat purchase;
  • increase the dollar value of purchase;
  • ease your cashflow;
  • creates positive word-of-mouth promotion for your company;
  • differentiate you from your competition;
  • minimize price sensitivity;
  • improve employee morale;
  • retains your customers;
  • increase your productivity;
  • foster better employee/supplier relatioship

In the final analysis, when every business, large and small, start to promote superior customer service, the differentiating factor will be the delivery of your promises. You must be able to 'walk the talk that you talk', or customers will take their business somewhere else. 'Talking the talk' is no longer enough, in fact, it'll harm your business.

Management must first recognize that customer service is crucial to the success of their business because it'll ensure the customers' commitment and loyalty to the buisness. Your ability to focus exclusively on your customers' needs rather than your own, and servicing those customers far beyond what your competitors do, will ensure that your business will be far more profitable than you ever dreamed of.

About the Author

Copyright 2005 by Larry Lim, MarketingSphere.com

Larry Lim is a marketing strategist and tactician who dishes out highly effective marketing strategies and tactics that will enable you to successfully start and grow your business on the Internet.

Check out his Internet Marketing Strategy website that is jam-packed with internet marketing secrets and softwares that will skyrocket your sales, and shoot your profits through the roof.

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