Halima Khan (August 26, 2015)
Customers are the source that drive a business. Said that; in order to attract and retain customers it is crucial that they are satisfied. What many companies fail to understand as they go out to sell their product in the market; is that customer satisfaction is basically fulfilment of customer needs. According to this concept quality, price, quantity, appearance etc. will only be meaningful to the customers if their specific needs are being met with the product.
In order to identify and manage customer needs, most organizations have a separate customer service department. It is not always the better product that will win the market competition, but the better customer treatment or what we call ‘customer service’ that leads the market.
Through research, we have identified the following seven elements that we believe are effective in understanding customer needs which will lead to improved customer satisfaction.
Introducing a highly advanced, innovative and unique product will not always gain the attention of the target market. Simply put, if your target market is children of ages 5 to 10 and your product category is breakfast cereal; you cannot introduce a candy and liquorice cereal and expect for it to attract masses. It is because at this age children are dependent on their parents and most parents prefer a healthy breakfast rather than a tasty one for their kids. Said that; your target market selection was flawed – your market is not the children; but the parents.
An organization should be clear on who the audience is and what it specifically demands. Without the clarity of these two basics you are most likely to fail. Once you have the answers to the prior you can focus on what to produce and how to produce in order to yield maximum customer satisfaction.
If you can do it once; you can do it twice and if you can do it twice you can keep on doing it! This is the gist of all the philosophies that have claimed the trail to best customer service. Look around and you will find that the most successful of businesses are the ones that are able to maintain consistency of their product/ service.
A business should not be limited to only attracting more and more customers, retaining each one of them is just as important. Customer loyalty can only be achieved if the customer is getting the things he liked in the first place again and again.
If the page ends; you need to bend your line! One should be flexible enough to offer customization in the product if the customers demand it rather than sticking to the usual produce. Remember, to run a business you need sales, for sales you need customers and to get customers you need to satisfy them with your offer.
Keep in mind different customer preferences and offer variety. If you do not offer variety you should be open to customization. This will help attract more people. For example, if you run an ice cream parlour where the standard sundae has a fruit topping, there are a number of people who do not like fruit toppings but love sundaes. If you resist omitting the toppings you will be losing a significant number of customers.
Customer feedback should never be taken for granted. If it’s a new customer or old ones; their feedback will only help you improve. At times customer feedback is not very positive and companies take it as critical or offensive. Rather than that, even a severely negative feedback should be taken openly. Cross-check your product with the comments, you never know your product might actually improve with the changes introduced on customer demand.
An example here should help clarify. Say you produce and sell bread. One batch of bread was sent back with packaging complaint. All the other batches were clean and sold out as usual. Now rather than taking offense over the retailer you should double check your packaging department as well as distribution service. It turns out that the seals were broken. The retailer becomes the hero! How? His return of goods made you save millions over your next produce once you get your packaging machine fixed.
Use the best of technology to deliver better customer support. Making use of technology can help you get an edge over your competitors. Even if you know what your customers’ needs are and you have been fulfilling them over the years but the demands of people change over time. Using technology to enhance convenience or adding to the features of your product will help you achieve better customer satisfaction.
There are many areas that demand flexibility in business. Trial and error is a common term used in business. Simply put; it means you try something, it doesn’t work, you make changes and move on with a better approach. Under such situations being flexible is necessary. One should be open towards accepting the mistakes made. Once you know where the error is, you will be able to fix it.
For instance your company developed a new mobile phone. The market rejected it because it was unable to capture better resolution pictures. Now only because of one poor feature you cannot decide to either discontinue the device or keep selling it without any changes. You need to be open to your flaws and public demand and have the problem dealt with if you wish for your products to be appreciated and purchased. A customer will only purchase your commodity if it fulfils their needs, and for now their prior need is good quality camera with the device. So if you want your device to be sold you will have to put customer satisfaction and needs first.
Come up with new ways to improve your products and services for the purpose of achieving maximum customer satisfaction. The most common practices to gain customer trust and loyalty include; providing a lively shopping experience, after sales services, feedback acknowledgment, warranties and much more. Coming up with a strategy outside the box to deliver better customer service can be a major edge. Focus on innovation and continuously improve to ensure that customer demands are met which will help your business grow.
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