Challenging economic times can be scary. Every day we hear news about lay-offs, company closings, mortgage foreclosures and more.
But no matter what's going on around us, we all have the ability to make our lives less stressful and more secure. An excellent way to do this is to increase our own job security. (It's not hard to do. )
Remember, in tough times it's even more important for companies to make their customers happy, so they keep coming back.
That's the foundation of building your own job security. If you consistently make your customers happy they'll help you have more job security by staying with you. Every smart manager knows one of the keys to a profitable and growing business is to have employees who keep customers coming back. You can be that person!
Here's a five-step system to make it happen:
1. Serve your customers.
Serving your customers means putting them first. It means helping them get what they want. Remember, your customers come to you to accomplish something they want or to avoid something they don't want They believe you can help them. (Otherwise they would have gone somewhere else. ) They have chosen you!
Honor their choice by doing everything within your ability to help them. This means focusing your attention and efforts on discovering what they want and helping them get it. You put their interests and desires first. It means your sole motivation is helping them get what they came for.
2. Connect with your customers.
Connecting with your customers means getting to know them as a person. You develop a relationship with them. Of course you keep it professional and in the context of your business. But it's okay to learn about them as you help them. In fact, the better you get to know them, the better you can help them.
As you develop a relationship with them, you build trust in each other. They trust your ability and motivations. You trust what they tell you. This helps you help them. It improves communications.
This does not have to take long. Sometimes a “social chemistry" can develop within minutes. It shouldn't be phony or manipulative. It needs to happen naturally. If you care about your customers, if you use your people skills, if you ask pertinent questions, if you listen and really focus on helping them, then you'll develop a great rapport with them quickly.
3. Have fun.
One of the biggest reasons customers don't return is they have no reason to. Sure they might get what they want but they often get it with no personality, no sparkle, no sizzle. Their experience is a dud. It's about as exciting as cleaning your ears. There's nothing memorable about it. Or worse, employees are crabby, grouchy or even angry and they show it. Yuk!
On the other hand, companies that enjoy tremendous customer loyalty offer their customers something they can't get anywhere else: FUN. They provide them an unexpected, positive experience. They have fun with them. The employees enjoy their work and each other and their customers. It's not that they goof off or waste time. They don't. But they find ways to bring fun and joy into their work and they bring their customers along for the ride.
4. Be flexible.
With most things there is no one right answer. There is almost always more than one way to accomplish something. But we don't always admit it. Too often we focus on one way to do something. Maybe it's the only way we know. Maybe it's the fastest, cheapest or easiest route to helping our customer. But that doesn't make it the best.
Our goal is to help our customers get what they want, within our ability. So we always need to look for alternatives. We need to be creative. We need to think beyond the first solution that comes to mind when we're working with our customers.
Being flexible means offering customers more than one solution. By offering choices we're making it more likely they'll get what they want. There are few things worse than being a customer and someone says “that's the only way you can do it".
Being flexible also means being willing to try new things and go the extra mile for customers. It means being a problem solver rather than an order taker. Customers know the difference. (So do managers. )
5. Make them happy.
This is the most important thing you can do with your customers. If they are happy with your service they will come back. They will help increase your job security because they'll stick with you and your company. Note, this does not mean you do anything and everything to make your customers happy. You're always limited by the resources and policies of your company. But it does mean you do everything within your ability to make them happy. Get creative and look for ways to give your customer a great experience.
You want your customers to leave happy. That's your bottom line. Make that happen and everything else will follow
Kevin Stirtz is the “Amazing Service Guy". He is a customer service speaker and trainer who helps companies increase revenue and profits by delivering Amazing Service. Kevin has been quoted in such major media as BusinessWeek, the Boston Globe, Smart Money and the Chicago Sun Times. Get a free copy of his Amazing Service Toolkit at http://amazingserviceguy.com