Do You Say Pehle Aap Enough? 6 Ways to Build Customer Satisfaction - Common Sense Living Newsletter
 
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Do You Say Pehle Aap Enough? 6 Ways to Build Customer Satisfaction

Life
Jul 16, 2014

 

We start every venture with truck-loads of passion. We put all we have of ourselves towards what we create and build. We spend nights sitting up and thinking of what to do next... how to make a product/service better, promote it better, price it better, pitch it better, position it better. And all the other Ps we can think of.

We get hold of intelligent and creative people. We brainstorm, ideate, discuss and debate till the cows come home. We go searching for advice in books, on the internet, from mentors and industry experts.

We want to create something unique, something that will leave a lasting impression. And while doing all this, we forget the basic premise of all businesses - Customer First!

I must confess, for the longest time in my life I was working with an ego the size of a giant football. I would get offended if anyone corrected my work too much. I would get irritated with the client's umpteen changes. And sometimes I would simply want to give the job back and return the money. Arrogant? Yes. Foolish? Completely!

Today I realize this approach is an absolute no-no. If I need to survive and thrive in a business I need to listen very carefully to the person on the other end. I need to put aside my urge for complete creative control and yes, make it about the other person. You may have your individual style of working and thinking but when it comes to business...

What the customer says is not just important... it is the only thing that matters.

Having said that it doesn't mean you sell what you don't believe, give into every whim and fancy of the customer and simply let your original ideas go out the window. There are ways to meet each other half way, to compromise and still ensure you keep the fragile relationship intact.

Below are 6 tips to help find the 'middle path' in customer satisfaction

  1. Start with a clear brief: Take some time to sit with your client and understand his/her requirements. Have any number of meetings to ensure you get this right. Do not start work until you have clarity on all fronts - from expectations to delivery. If there is sufficient understanding of the scope of work at this stage itself, half your problems regarding customer satisfaction will get resolved. But remember that to provide something meaningful you have to put your own thoughts and biases aside and simply keep your ears and mind open to what is in the best interests of the other person. Don't interrupt, just listen and then raise questions at the end.


  2. Appreciate suggestions: Very often we think we know enough and more about our areas of expertise. We believe we have done the best we could and it better get appreciated. But then the client throws a googly! And you realize your work has been received and interpreted very differently. Instead of feeling down and wondering what next, look at it positively. Gratitude helps here too. Appreciate the fact that your client noticed something that you didn't. Another dimension adds to the existing one, it does not take away from it. And when you begin to acknowledge the fact that there are more views than one, you will grow as a person and as a business.

  3. Keep channels of communication open: Follow this mantra from the start to the finish of your working relationship with just about anyone. Always be approachable and accessible. Always answer the phone or call back, respond quickly to emails and be prepared to go for sudden meetings. In India particularly, people work erratically. There is no off day or off hour. A client may want to see the first draft before taking a flight out. And he/she may just call you on a Sunday as well. In the early days of setting up your business, being choosy may not help. But there is a thin line between being available and being approachable, one that you alone can draw.

  4. Incorporate iterations that make sense: Respond rather than react to feedback. All of us have a tendency to cling to our creations. We get so attached to our 'big idea', we fail to see the negatives in it. But if we objectively incorporate suggestions that work, we will only create a superior product. I've noticed some of the most successful people are those who have no qualms about repeating and redoing something to ensure it reaches a certain stage of mutually acceptable 'perfection'. So by all means make iterations and reiterations. Keep at it till you get it right. There is a reason why they say -- "God is in the details."

  5. Make suggestions backed by research: When you explain why something should be a certain way, provide adequate rationale for it. Ensure what you recommend is backed by research. Show comparative data, analyse market trends, draw parallels and finally come up with your own suggestions. This also comes back to the first fundamental of entrepreneurship: know your business and industry well and understand where the gaps are. And if the client is still not happy, conduct a dipstick. It may just do the trick. In creative lines, this almost always helps. Get a few people to view a piece of work and give instant feedback on it. The client is then shown the collated data and can make a more informed decision.

  6. Reaffirm your commitment to quality: At any point when you see that the relationship between you and your client is not going too well, do the best you can to convey that your enterprise is committed to quality. And also clarify what quality means to you. Some organizations create a list of core operating values or a values charters that helps explain what quality and service means to them. You can try doing the same. When you set a certain standard and live by it, the customer will respect you and your enterprise for it. But more than anything, emphasise that the focus on quality will only enhance their own customer experience.

The relationship between entrepreneurs and clients is always a love-hate one, like most human relations are. The idea is finding the right balance, staying connected and keeping the dialogue going. But more importantly, both consumer and creator should add value to each other's lives... they should feel enriched by the experience and should come back wanting more!

Share with us your own stories of customer service and satisfaction. Have you as an individual or organization learned how to tackle this issue better? What methods have you devised to do the same?

 
 

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1 Responses to "Do You Say Pehle Aap Enough? 6 Ways to Build Customer Satisfaction"

Anupam Vaid

01 Aug, 2014

One Employee Will Kill Your Business and You Won’t Even Know It When it Happens. The reputation of a thousand years may be determined by the conduct of one hour. Japanese proverb. According to a study conducted by the Rockefeller Corporation of Pittsburgh, 68% of customers stop doing business with a company because of an attitude of indifference by an owner, manager or some employee. Now do you really think that an owner or manager would not care about their customers? You can almost take for granted that they “get it.” So who is left? And the statistic does not say “some employees.” It’s just one. To the customer, just one employee IS the company. And that one employee could cost your business big. Just before Christmas, a security video of a FedEx driver nonchalantly dropping a computer monitor over a fence went viral on YouTube [1] with over 2 million views in 48 hours. Today it has over 8 .5 million views Earlier this year, this picture of a Papa John’s receipt with its racial slur was retweeted 25,000 times in two hours. Both incidents generated huge press coverage for the wrong reasons for their brands and prompted apologies from the C-level of both companies. Leadership development speaker Mark Sanborn posted in his blog [3] recently about being told that to catch an earlier flight but with a downgrade from first class to coach, it still would cost him an additional $75. It didn’t matter that he was a United 1K Elite traveler flying over 2 million miles with United. People Skills Coach Kate Nasser posted in her Smart SensAbilities [4] blog about her confrontation with Karen, the manager at the Hilton Garden Inn in Eagan. When Ms. Nasser went down to catch the cab that would take her to her appointment, the cab driver asked for her room number. Of course, she didn’t want to give it to a complete stranger. So she asked the cab driver to come back into the hotel so that they could confirm her cab reservation. Ms. Nasser explains to Karen at the front desk that she did not want to give out her room number and could Karen confirm to the cab driver that she was the client for the reserved cab. Here’s the rest of that conversation: Karen to the cab driver: “Her room number is 210.” Ms. Nasser: “Excuse me, you just gave my room number to this man.” Karen: “The cab company requires it.” Ms. Nasser, “You just gave this man my room number.” Karen: “Nothing has ever happened.” Ms. Nasser: “You just gave out my room number. How are you going to fix this?” Karen: “Are you going to argue with me or are you going to get in the cab?” Nick Meiers posted on his Essential Hospitality [5] blog about this conversation he overheard in a restaurant: Guest: “How is the rib-eye?” Server: “I’m not sure, I’ve never eaten here. You know how it is, you don’t want to be at work when you’re not working!” I am convinced that in each of these incidents, these employees didn’t see anything wrong to act indifferently to the customer as they did. And here is the “killer” part. In each of these cases, their manager or owner had no clue that these employees did what they did. Of course, the owner or manager would have handled the situations differently. But they weren’t there. At that moment, the reputation of the brand was in the hands of the one employee who was. And in each case, with the amplification by social media, the brand lost big time. So what can you do to make sure you don’t have even one of these business-killing employees? • Define customer service expectations during the onboarding process. Include customer service standards in each job description. Create and review your customer service manifesto [6] with each new hire. • Use these poor customer service examples and those you read or hear about to remind your team of how the actions of just one employee can damage the business and brand. Discuss proper responses in handling similar situations that could arise in your business. • Take immediate disciplinary action when an employee displays rude behavior to a customer. • Share customer feedback, good and bad, regularly with your team. Involve your employees in defining alternative responses in handling the situations that generated negative customer comments. • Motivate your team continuously with daily huddles to keep focused on delivering exceptional customer service. • Constantly ask your employees if there are any incidents or questions that need to be resolved today so they can be better equipped to handle them in the future. • Empower your employees to bend the rules to take care of your customers. • Reward, recognize and celebrate the random acts of kindnesses that individual employees offer your customers. • Serve as a role model to your employees when interacting with your customers directly. When you do this you will keep every one of your employees involved, engaged and committed in only offering the kind of “killer” service for which you DO want to be recognized.

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