“Customers for Life”
Carl Sewell s book Customers for Life is devoted to teaching the businessperson of today ways in which they can turn one-time buyers into customers for life. He states that every customer has the ability to be worth 332,000 dollars to your business if you can keep them for life. Mr. Sewell is the number selling luxury automobile dealer in the country. He started from the bottom and manipulated his automobile business into a 250,000,000-dollar business. In his book he explains the things that he has found to work for his business in great detail so that you may also apply them to your business. The entire book revolves around these 10 commandments to customer service:
The Ten Commandments of Customer Service
1. Bring em back alive. Ask customers what they want and give it to them again and again. Do not try and guess what the customers want, just ask them. They are more than willing to tell you. You should make it easy for the customer to tell you what they want by giving them a short questionnaire. Most importantly, you do not want to pester the customer; if you bother the customer, they are not going to be happy.
2 Systems, not smiles. Saying please and thank you does not ensure you ll do the job right the first time, every time. Only systems guarantee that. There are two major components of a system. The first being to do the job right the first time and the second one is having a plan in place to deal with things when they go wrong. Being nice to the customers is only 20% of providing good customer service, the other 80% of good customer service is providing the customer with what they need and want.
3. Underpromise, overdeliver. Customers expect you to keep your word, but rather than merely keep it, exceed it. You never want to charge the customer more than the estimate. To ensure that this will happen, build yourself a cushion so that you will be able to deliver the goods at a lower cost if possible. This will make the customer like doing business with you; thus he will spend more money with you. There is the possibility of being able to charge the customer the inflated amount, but this is not a good idea. Keeping the difference is not as good or as profitable as keeping the customer. You can sheer a sheep many times, but you can only skin it once.
4. When the customer asks something, the answer is always yes. When a customer asks if you can do something for them, the answer is always yes, providing the request is somehow related to your business. Even if you cannot figure out immediately how to do what they ask, the answer is still yes. Do not charge extra for things that a friend would do for another friend, you will more than make up the money in future business. Help your customer.
5. Fire your inspectors and human relations department. Every employee who deals with clients must have the authority to handle complaints (to a point). Inspectors make people sloppy. If you know that someone is checking your work, you may be less likely to check it yourself. Having a human relations department allows you to become out of touch with your employees and your customers.
6. No complaints? Something s wrong. Encourage your customers to tell you what you re doing wrong. 96% of unhappy customers never say anything, they simply do not return. You need to encourage your customers to speak their minds so that you can get an idea of what that customer is feeling. This will enable you to correct the situation immediately and once again regain that customers respect and trust.
7. Measure everything. Baseball teams and football teams do it, you should too. You need to measure everything that s relevant to the employee. You cannot tell people to do their best and them hope that their best is good enough. Both you and the employee have to know how they are doing and where they and the business can improve. You need to raise the level of acceptable performance when your goals have been met. Unless you are consistently getting better, somebody will pass you by. You also need to limit the number of goals that you set for your employees. If you give them too many things to concentrate on, they won t be able to concentrate on anything.
8. Salaries are unfair. Pay people like partners, offer them a piece of the profits for their department. Give your employee some incentive to overachieve and most usually will. This will lead to larger profits, better efficiency, and greater productivity in your overall business. It will also make the employees feel important.
9. Your mother was right, manners really are important. Show people respect and be polite. Having good manners and using them never hurt anyone. Being nice to people is more efficient, more effective, and makes everyone feel better. You need to make more an extra effort to do little things for people such as hold open doors and carry their purchases to their cars. This is something that people very much appreciate and remember.
10. Japanese them. Learn how the best really do it; make their systems your own. Then improve them. The Japanese have developed the best systems for getting the most out of their employees and satisfying customers. Borrow their ideas and use them to better your systems. You must be afraid to tweak these ideas so as to make them even better, nobody says you have to go directly by the book. Some of the most successful business people today have gotten there by bending the rules to get ahead.
Mr. Sewell is quick to point out that these rules are absolutely worthless if your business is not making a profit.