Taking Care of Customers

January 30th, 2011
Steven Howard

If you do not take care of your customers, someone else will.

A goal of every organization is to increase its assets over time. These assets are typically defined in terms of customer accounts, properties, human resources, and capital.

But there are two hidden assets that every organization can develop and which are critical for sustained marketing success — customers and brands.

I recall being in Melbourne in mid August 1999, attending a major meeting of the Australian and New Zealand banks that issued MasterCard credit cards.

Mr. Nicholas Utton, Chief Marketing Officer of MasterCard International at the time, had one key message for his audience of senior bankers concerning customers, "if we don't take care of our customers, someone else will."

That's worth repeating, and reflecting, on: "if we don't take care of our customers, someone else will."

How true that is. Think about all the choices and options available to customers today. Rare is the customer that finds himself or herself without options, choices or substitute products for the solutions they seek.

To take care of your customers, you need to have a full understanding of their wants, needs and desires. I would also suggest you need to have a corporate attitude that understands any person or organization is not truly your customer until the second time they buy.

That's right. I recommend you do not consider anyone a customer until the second time they buy from you. The first time they buy they are merely a trial user. Unless they achieve satisfaction from the purchase and the use of your product or service, they may be unlikely to repeat their business with you.

Hence, taking care of the customer goes beyond the mere sales cycle and includes all post-purchase activities such as use, repair, servicing, customer service, warranties, trade-in, re-sale and even recycling and disposing.

The best way to take care of your prospects and customers is to tailor or customize your products and service offering as much as you profitably can. Treat your customers as individuals — with individual needs — at all customer touch points and you will be well on your way to developing customer loyalty.

We will have a lot more to say and share with you in future Keeping Good Customers blog posts. In the meantime, feel free to leave your comments and thoughts below.

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