There is nothing dumber you can do than getting mad at a customer. What is the point? These days when it is harder than ever to get a new customer and even harder to keep that customer amidst the barrage of competition coming for all sides there is nothing more counter-productive than getting mad at one of your customers.
Look, I know customers can be demanding, they can be hard to deal with and yes sometimes even totally unreasonable but it doesn’t matter because part of being in business is to service your customers, providing them with whatever they want…note I said what they want which is not always what they need. Or what you think they need, no you have to give them what they want.
In today’s market customers have as the airlines are fond of telling us many choices, which is their case is not quite true, we have too few choices and are stuck with their lousy service, but that’s a column for another day. In our case, in our industry, there are many choices our customer can make, if you don’t believe that just ask them. But it is true, our customers have many options of where they can go to buy their circuit boards. From the cheaper guy down the street to the really cheap guy across the big pond they have all the choices in the world and they exercise them freely all the time, vendor loyalty is at an all-time low.
So, ladies and gentlemen that is why you can never get mad at your customers. You have to treat them like gold and make sure you are so valuable to them that they will never want to leave you. The trick is how to do that. How will you make sure that you keep your customers happy both today and in the future?
Here are five ways to make sure you are so valuable, so loved by your customers, that they will never want to leave you.
- Anticipate your customers’ needs. Too many of us are sitting around waiting for the next demand to come down from our customers. This is wrong and it is also making us the victims. The better way is to learn everything about them, their end products, their market, how they handle our boards, what they do with them when they come into their company and everything else they really need from you and then give it to them.
- Realize that you’re not just selling boards, but rather an integral part of their system, a key component and a critical ingredient to their success. Our job is to figure out how we can help them be successful. Is there a better way to package our boards that will make I easier for our customers? Or can we be helping them with their designs? Maybe it’s meeting with them and their end customers and listening to them intently enough to come up with ways to make both of them, and your company in the end as well, more successful.
- Have regular check-ups. Yes, ask your customers if you can meet with them on a regular basis to make sure you are on the right track. Ask to visit with them face to face and ask them who you are doing? Have a set of questions prepared so that you can develop a customer file on each of your customers that includes those special preferences that you can do for them to be outstanding and valuable.
- This is a team effort. Don’t just leave it up to the sales people to talk to customers. Your customers belong to everyone in your shop so make sure that all your key people are on a first name basis with your customers’ appropriate counterparts. This could be the most important thing you have ever done. Customer service is a whole company effort. Every single person in your company is a customer service person as well as a sales person. And it’s your job as a leader to make sure that everyone in your company from the guy in plating to the lady in drill to the maintenance people know everything they can about their customers.
- Create a customer satisfaction team that does nothing but focus on the customers and the way your company can please them. This team should have representatives from every department in your company. They should meet at least once a week to work on ways to delight their customers. Can you imagine that? Can you imagine spending one hour a week focused on your customers and how you can make them love you? So, simple, yet so rare. I don’t know of a single company in our industry that is doing this today. So, get this…you can be the first. Give it a try and you’ll quickly be the most outstanding company in what is a virtual wasteland of customer delight.
And yes, there is one more, always under promise and over deliver;
- If you own the company or are the company president, then pick up that phone and call your customers. Yes, they will take your call, you are the president after all, and they will be anxious to talk to you. You will not only gain great insight into your customer and his needs. You will also impress her with your dedication to making sure she is delighted. The very action of picking up the phone and calling your customer will go a very long way to letting that customer know how much you care. And once again, almost no one in our industry is doing this you will be outstanding in the truest sense of the word.
Please give these ideas a try. We are losing so many PCB companies in this country that it is time we really stepped up to make sure our customers want no part of taking their business elsewhere. It’s only common sense,