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3 Secrets to Creating Happy Customers

Are you spending time and money on bells, whistles, and gimmicks in an effort to delight your customers? If so, stop. Instead, focus on your internal customer workflows. Your customers will appreciate it.

Here's how:

  1. Make it easier for your customer to do business with you.

    Focus all customer-related, post sale activity on making life easier for your customer to do business — more specifically, to do business with YOU. That is, identify where there were bottlenecks, delays, or other issues. Find a way to eliminate these. Talk with the customer. Ask the customer what challenges they experienced on their end — and really listen. Work to eliminate these. Become the provider that makes it easier for the customer to do business. Making a customer's business run smoother will trump bells and whistles anytime.

  2. Empower your customer facing employees to go above and beyond.

    Your customer facing employees are critical to customer retention and satisfaction. Make sure these employees understand the importance of their roles. Keeping existing customers satisfied is the most economical way to grow sales revenue and profits because there are no customer acquisition or startup costs. That's why keeping existing customers satisfied should be the mantra of your frontline employees.

  3. Invest in training.

    Put your time and money into training with the objective of increasing No. 1 and No. 2 above. Smart, effective employees trump all other investments on the customer satisfaction and retention scale. Looking for proof? When was the last time you were upset with a company because they were smart and efficient?

Remember, satisfied customers tell three friends about their experience, and angry customers tell their unhappy tale to dozens. These are the interactions that can make or break an organization. We'd love to hear your stories of excellent or subpar experiences with your vendors. Let us know what happened.

24 comments on “3 Secrets to Creating Happy Customers

  1. FLYINGSCOT
    September 20, 2013

    I agree with your comments.  Too many times I have seen companies let employees with insufficient skill or experience visit customers and sometimes this has spoiled a relationship.

  2. _hm
    September 20, 2013

    This is good at the begining. However as time passes and when there is no more predctable business, it is difficult to keep customer happy.

    With limited resoruces, what is solution for this?

     

  3. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    September 20, 2013

    _hm, this may sound simplistic, but i think good listening (and making sure they know you are listening) goes a long way to makign customers happy. I alos think that Frank's point about empowering employees to respond to customers is critical–there's nothing worse than when the person the customer is speakign with says “I'm sorry, but i can't do anything.”

  4. _hm
    September 21, 2013

    @Hailey: I am from customer side. And I strongly agree with the post. However, FAE and sales representative often runs out of patience. They do tell us, we need to have more ordered else we will not support you as good. And this do happen. How to prevent this? How keep stong belief and support as best as they can.

    Also if you are working on your own, response is quite bad. Our requireement is genuine. Customer needs parts in very good quantity. But many parts manaufacturer and big three distributor give pretty discouraging support. Perhaps, that is why Digikey/Mouser/Newarek turnout to be best guy without and sales force!

     

  5. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    September 21, 2013

    _hm, what would be the things that you would like distributors to do to support you better? I know a lot of them read these pages!

  6. Hailey Lynne McKeefry
    September 21, 2013

    _hm, what would be the things that you would like distributors to do to support you better? I know a lot of them read these pages!

  7. Taimoor Zubar
    September 21, 2013

    “..but i think good listening (and making sure they know you are listening) goes a long way to makign customers happy.”

    @Hailey: It does seem simplistic and something that may seem to be common sense, but I do agree that listening to customers is very essential in ensuring customer satisfaction. You may not want to or be able to fulfill every wish that the customers may be having, but just listening to what they have to say makes them feel that there's someone out there who considers them important and values them.

  8. Taimoor Zubar
    September 21, 2013

    I think many companies these days are going for an approach that involves the processes to be customer-centric and each and every activity that an employee does is tailored to ensure that it leads to customer satisfaction in one way or the other. I think this is a fairly good approach to follow.

  9. _hm
    September 21, 2013

    I have few years experience in marketing space electronics parts and parts required for physical research and plasma experimentation.

    For creating a new customer and keeping them happy requires a lots of extra hours of work. Actually you are working on so many designs! This requires 4 to 5 hours of etra work everyday. When you get opportunity to meet customer, they may highlight you new unique problems he is in process of resolving. One need to understand this application in as much detail as possible. Once this details are there, FAE marketing guy also needs to do parallel research in how his portfolio can help solve this problem. This requires lots of reading and help from expert from factory. Once they get potential solutions, they should pass all design to designers. Provide all relevant application literature, samples and evaluation boards. They should take this opportunity to make one visit to customer.

    Along with more obvious big designer and corporate customers, they should look for new upcpoming designers, small entrepreneur and independent engineers. They start with small quantity but over time they do have large quanity requirement. And they are growing and eventually becomes consultant to fortune 100 organizations. They do get authority to select and employ parts they like most. Once you help them at early stage, when they are growing, they will help you market all your parts in future. You become very good friends. I suggest them to start relationship even earlier when this decision maker are students.

    Generally success rate getting return is around  5% to 10%, and I consider that to be very good achivement.

     

     

  10. prabhakar_deosthali
    September 22, 2013

    I perfectly agree that every company has to be customer centric to be successful in business. But you have to also see who your real customers are. Otherwise while trying to appease a false customer you may end up in being in trouble .

     

    While working in a company's design department, I have seen some of my team members giving false promises of large quantity orders to the component suppliers even when there was no approved product plan. In return to such false promises these engineers would get a lot of free samples form the prospective suppliers, A lot of visits by the senior sales people of the suppliers in the hope to get those huge orders and finally finding out that actually the project itself was a non starter.

     

    So it is also the responsibility of the design engineers to become good customers .

     

  11. Ashu001
    September 22, 2013

    Prabhakar,

    In this situation,Don't you feel the blame also lies with the Companies concerned?

    Why can't they provide some free samples to Engineers to tinker with?

    Or for that matter,what would be even better if they fostered to create a Second Hand Market where a lot of Older Parts can be sold/Hawked for say 5%-10% of the Stickerprice.

    In a lot of Advanced Electronics,etc I have seen a very thriving Second-Hand market (where companies even provide Excellent After Sales service too).

    Why can't that model we replicated here?

    The other option is to Loan a Sample for a specific Period of time-say 90 days at the end of which if you don't return the product you have to Full Market price for it.

    This model works very well in Software.

    Why can't we replicate this model here?

    The bottomline is we need to give All Consumers options for how to access a company's products.

    In today's difficult times(when Demand is so slow);Companies need to be more flexible with how they deal with Consumers rather than simply turning them away because the funds are non-existent currently.

    Regards

    Ashish.

  12. Ashu001
    September 22, 2013

    hm,

    This is an excellent post!

    I agree wholeheartedly with your comments here.

    In today's hard-pressed Times Companies need to work harder to deliver not just Value to customers but also to retain them.

    If you don't the Competition will just Eat You up today!

    It is definitely harder to do Business today than in the Boom years that we saw previously but we all have to get used to it.

    This current difficult phase could last for a very longtime.

     

     

  13. _hm
    September 22, 2013

    @Prabhakar: Generally, designers are good customers, busy and pretty innocent. They gave feedback in good faith. But there are so many parameters beyond their control. This is implied and FAE and sales guy must understand this. That is why, if your hitting rate is 5%, consider it to be very good.

    Also, if designer needs free sample, eval board they simply ask for it. They make friendly disclosure that it is for experiment only. No big design or product. Nothing wrong in this. It is their previlege. But this is exactly an opportunity for FAE and manufacturer to grab future possibilities.

    So even designer's promise does not come true, you should pat him for his best effort and ask how they can help him next. For example I remember Analog Devices FAE. Every visit, he always use to carry pretty expensive part for me. They did got very good business. Now there are other OEs.

    You need to have faith and lots of patience.

     

  14. _hm
    September 22, 2013

    @tech4people: Thanks. I envy FAE and techical sales guy and love that work so much. It is very nice to be solution provider to many designers.

    But to be FAE or technical sales guy, I insist one to have minumum of 10 years of design experience. This is very essential.

     

  15. prabhakar_deosthali
    September 23, 2013

    Ashish,

    I agree with you on the points that the companies should provide some free samples to the designers to play around without expecting any immediate business in return.

    But some engineers , in my experience take such suppliers for a ride . They portray a false picture of the so called on going projects and try to extract more and more samples, free gifts and so on.

    This in my opinion goes beyond ethics in some cases and though the FAE may seem to obliging by fulfilling the demand, the overall impression becomes negative .

  16. Ashu001
    September 23, 2013

    _hm,

    I am not at all surprised that you like them(Looking at how much experience you have here already).

    Having 10 years experience is a great way to sort out the Has-beens from the Folks who really know what they are talking about .

    I like it!!!!

  17. Ashu001
    September 23, 2013

    Prabhakar,

    Unfortunately we have got to learn to live with such cases.

    There will always be some Leakages involved in this process.

    Its like this-Either you Give them the chance to play with your products(in the Hopes that they will place a Large Order later on) or we let them go elsewhere.

    The best we can do is cut down on the Leakages by limiting Samples sent to a Fixed Number.

    If you exceed that number ,No Sample for you.

  18. ahdand
    September 23, 2013

    IMO, making customers happy will be easy but keeping them happy would be the toughest part. I feel if you need to keep customers happy you do need to provide a good after sales service. As long as you are in touch with the customer, the business and the relationship with the customer is safe   

  19. Ashu001
    September 24, 2013

    Nimantha,

    You have to deal with that situation.

    After all,So many studies have clearly pointed out that's easier to Sell Something to someone who already is your Customer than to Convince a New Customer.

    Its basic Pschyology there.

    You have to be willing to Devote atleast 30% of your Sales& Marketing Resources towards Old customers today helping them do their Job better!

    That's the only way to win more Business from them Currently.

     

  20. Houngbo_Hospice
    September 24, 2013

    @nimantha.d

    It is true that most customers will remain loyal if you show that they can count on you for a good after sales service, This implies using email marketing, thank you cards or other contact information to keep in touch with your customers. 

  21. jbond
    September 24, 2013

    Excellent point it is the after sales and follow up that makes the difference. If you are keeping your current customers happy they are more likely to spread the word and help with new customer sales. Word of mouth seems to be the best.

  22. ahdand
    September 27, 2013

    @Hospice: Indeed aftersales service is something which has to be given high priority. That is where you can stay in the market for a longer period of time.

  23. Susan Fourtané
    October 12, 2013

    HH, 

    I don't think thank you cards, and that sort of things help customers remain loyal. Instead, a good customer service is shown when the customer really needs customer support. If he doesn't have it, it is then when he will tell the story dozens of times putting your business at risk, but after all, that would be your fault, wouldn't it? 

    -Susan

  24. Susan Fourtané
    October 12, 2013

    nimantha,, 

    I think customer satisfaction is more important that after-sales. 

    -Susan

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