Like a glove. Allow me to explain…
Business Networking is reaching out through those with whom you do business, expanding your network by sharing your partners’ contacts. In its simplest sense, it is seeking and receiving referrals. Everyone knows word of mouth is the best way to increase your network.
What brings referrals better than high-quality proactive customer service?!
The way you treat your customers will naturally bring an attraction or repelling factor. This affects your customer directly, their network of referrals (your potential clients!), and indirectly affects your other business partners. They will find out whether you create thrilled or indifferent customers, and respond in kind, allowing their network to be attracted or repelled.
In this, the Information Age, things have changed from previous decades – it’s not enough to have merely “satisfied” customers. Businesses must strive for thrilled, loyal customers. What’s the significant difference? Consider a “satisfied spouse” vs. a “loyal spouse”…need I say more?!
To me, customer service needs to be proactive. Do you notify your customers of relevant developments before they find out on their own (sometimes the hard way)? For example, my family and I experienced a power outage last week. The electric company notified us within minutes of the outage with an ETA on the repair! I was impressed with the speed & accuracy of this proactive communication.
As my mental wheels turned on that experience, I discovered a few more keys to creating a thrilled, loyal customer. Speed & accuracy are critical. There are no excuses in our technological world for a lack of communication – not just “hey, here’s the problem…” but “we are aware of and responsible for this issue and will address it in the following ways ASAP…” So the customer doesn’t need to lift a finger (the service part of customer service).
Finally, show appreciation. Nobody will do business with you long-term if they do not clearly and frequently feel appreciated. “Charles & Susan, we know that you have a choice when it comes to _____ service. Thank you for choosing us. We will continue to _____ and take care of you. What more can we do for you?”
So much changes so quickly today. How many times do you shop around, looking for that “better deal?” Creating a long-term thrilled, loyal customer will shine like a spotlight anytime your area of expertise comes up. How powerful will that be for your customers’ network to observe? Will they not yearn for similar dependability in their own lives? And last time you made a positive change in your service provider, was it not due to the suggestion of someone you trust? Highly likely.
Ask yourself this question (whether you’re a customer or a business partner with our hypothetical example ‘John’) “John’s customers are thrilled with the results he gets them…wouldn’t my network benefit from working with John also?!”
The definition of a loyal customer is one who will stay with you even if another company’s price or service could be better. That is so powerful in our competitive world! There will always be someone who does now or soon will outdo your business performance in one way or another. But this key – thrilled, loyal customers – will keep your business networking vibrant & growing, receiving referrals through multiple channels, setting you apart from the many others unsuccessfully seeking to snatch your customers.
“No, thank you, but we must politely decline, we have been so well cared for by (*insert your name & business here), we will be their customers for life.”