This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is CUSTOMER-2.jpgBusiness growth is all about increased sales. Sales, in turn, depend on customer decisions to buy from business A instead of business B.

In an increasingly competitive business world, businesses are now focussing more on customer service and management as a growth mechanism.

Customers now have a greater choice of what products to buy and who to buy from and they will use that power to get better deals and better treatment.

Therefore the natural trend has been that businesses that have put in place solid customer service frameworks have started to surge ahead of the competition. Gone are the days when customers where secondary to corporate strategy.

Now you have to start and end your strategy with customers. From customers` needs to their service, it is now all about customers.

Therefore if you want to implement a credible growth strategy that will succeed, then you will be glad that you have stumbled on this page.

That is because I am going to give you a few tips about how you can improve your customer service framework. These tips can be applied by all kinds of business from service businesses, manufacturers or retailers.

So how can you improve your customer service?

1. Know your customers

You have to put in place a system that will collect data about your customers. This data can help you understand how your customers generally behave.

This information will be a key strategic planning tool. Information about what products they buy, and in which season, what products they usually buy grouped together, how often your average customer usually buys, their age groups, sex, income, average revenue per customer, average order size, and so forth.

Your data collection system should be able to analyze this data so as to give you information that will help you to plan your business better, compete better and generally improve your overall dealings with customers.

The development of technology now makes it possible to gather and analyze such information fairly easily so there is no excuse why you should ever be surprised by your customers` behavior.

2. The Customer is King.

You must always treat your customers like royalty. If you treat them right, they will come back. Be thankful that there will always be some business people who will not treat their customers well, therefore if you do, they will come to you.

Another thing that you need to know about customers is that they are the biggest gossips in the world. Treat them well and they will tell all their friends and before you know it, all their friends will become your customers too.

Just remember that as much as good customer treatment will bring you more business, the opposite is equally true for bad customer treatment.

Therefore your staff should be, keen to attend to customers, keen to help, happy to serve and be willing to do extra for the customer. Offer follow-up service. Don’t just grab their money and run. Show them that you care by offering after-sale services.

Call them up and if they have time, do short surveys about their feelings concerning their experiences at your business.

Show them you are concerned about how they felt, and how they were treated. Indicate to them that you are flexible in your business approach and that you are willing to take steps to improve areas of concern.

3. Staff training

Invest in staff customer service and management training. Train your staff how you want your customers treated. Train your staff about your products.

There is nothing that annoys customers` more than unhelpful assistants who know even less about what they are selling than the customers themselves. How can they sell if they don’t have a full understanding of the products?

Promote education and development, and reward those members of staff that show enthusiasm to learn and develop their own skills.

4. Get it right the first time

Some customers are simply unforgiving and don’t give second chances. They expect you to get it right the first time and thus you should show them that you are more than competent to have them as your customers.

5. Treat all customers equally.

All customers are important, even those who buy one item. You never know what they will buy tomorrow. The idea is to get them to keep coming back to your business. The value of the business they bring to you is no object.

Of course, it is natural that you should take extra care of your bigger customers. But that should not mean that you treat your smaller customers as unimportant.

For example, suppose one of your big customers arrives and finds that there is a long queue. What would you do? The natural response is to get them to jump the queue. Bad mistake!

You risk annoying your smaller customers who may have been waiting a long time. The fact that they buy small quantities does not mean that they are unimportant. Remember, numerous small customers put together are bigger that one big customer.

Instead with better planning you should have anticipated this situation and would already have a marked place reserved for those customers with orders above certain levels.

You should make it look like you have such a reservation for easier logistical management of bigger orders. That way you would not offend anyone and your bigger customer would feel special by not having to queue. It’s a win-win situation.

6. Look at your competition

Never run your business from a box. Get out there and learn from your rivals. See how they are managing their customers and do try to do it better. Learn from their mistakes and use them to build better service for your business.

As I always say, this list is by no means exhaustive. Do some more research and find out how you can improve how you treat your customers.

Improvements to your customer management model should be an ongoing process throughout your business life.

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