In today’s tough economic climate, many small business owners and entrepreneurs face an uphill struggle trying to keep their business afloat. It’s all too easy to blame the loss of clients or declining sales figures on the state of the economy; however, there are often other more basic reasons which we tend to overlook in these situations.
Yes, it’s difficult to find clients and even harder to keep existing ones; you’re faced with competitors who slash their prices and desperate businesses who are willing to resort to all types of sleazy tactics to keep afloat. Sometimes, you have to look beyond this mayhem and go back to basics by reviewing the core essence of what your business is about. Let’s take a look at a couple of areas which may be to blame for the loss of clients and business:
Don’t Ignore Customer Complaints
When you’re bogged down in paperwork it’s easy to lose track of basic everyday issues such as dealing with customer complaints.
It’s possible that some clients who receive poor service will simply “defect” and go elsewhere; however, most will try to bring their issues to your attention in the form of a complaint. This is where things start to go wrong as these complaints are ignored or often badly handled; guess what? You’ve just lost a customer!
Use these “opportunities” to analyse your internal systems for handling customer complaints. You need to listen to complaints and determine whether they are justified or not; if it’s the former, you’ll have to analyse the situation and introduce changes to ensure that such complaints are avoided – or at least reduced – in the future.
Don’t forget that a big part of successful customer complaint handling is to make sure your employees are adequately trained in how to handle customer complaints. It’s not rocket science and if you follow 5 basic tips (see link), you and your team will be able to handle the most difficult of customer complaints.
Make Sure Service Levels Live Up to Customer Expectations
This relates closely to the above point on customer complaint handling; if you’ve set certain expectations – through marketing, branding, advertising, PR – but your customer experience is not aligned with these expectations, you’ve got a problem.
Before spending money on expensive marketing, make sure you understand your target market and you’re company’s limitations. It’s much better to offer less services or product features and be able to deliver excellent service than to promise the world and only deliver on part of that promise; all that will lead to is negative word of mouth, customer complaints and ultimately, loss of customers and business.
These two tips may seem simple and obvious to many; however, when was the last time you took a good look at the customer complaints you receive? Have you made sure your customer expectations are being met by aligning your products and services to these expectations?
I’d love to hear your thoughts…feel free to comment below 🙂
Photo Credit: Latente