A collection of articles written by Customer 1st

How to Avoid Your Own Personal Recession:

19th August 2011 | Posted in Customer Relationships

Look after Your Loyal Customers and Make Them Feel Safe

In this time of renewed uncertainty around the world, fears of another global recession have materialised. It could be even worse than last time, although hopefully, that will not be the case. It seems to me that everything has become unpredictable. In business, unpredictability is almost as big an enemy as the recession and the lack of growth opportunities. I was thinking about how we should react to this uncertainty as far as our customers are concerned. I suspect that it's a golden opportunity to cement relationships with the customers that are still around.

Possible sovereign defaults are alarming for all of us. Supply chains are at risk, with implications for our businesses and our customers. My advice is that you should let all your customers, internal and external, know that you will continue to support them and provide them with exceptional service.

Your customers will be feeling nervous about the current economic and political situation. They might be worrying, perhaps needlessly, about their supply chain—which could well include you. It is a good time to communicate with them, to tell them exactly the position you are in. Whether it is a healthy one or not, I think you should continue to grow your customer relationships, and this sometimes means sharing the bad news as well as the good. Believe me, customers will remain loyal, even in bad times, if you are totally transparent with them. If certain suppliers default, for example, and you have to look for an alternative source, let your customers know immediately. They will appreciate your honesty and trust you to deliver as soon as you possibly can.

Think about the alternative. You could ignore your customers and lose them. Angry customers rarely return, and handling their problems or issues responsibly and professionally makes all the difference. We all occasionally have to break bad news, but there are ways of sharing negative information that takes the sting out of it. People buy people, and when you have built up those fantastic relationships with your key accounts, they will understand that you will resolve any issues that may arise because of companies in your supply chain failing to deliver. Your trusting customer will know that you will do everything in your power to deliver the service or product that you have promised.

Just imagine if your bank manager or insurance agent rang you not to sell you a product, but to make sure you are weathering the storm and to offer his or her help should you need it. If that happened, what an impression it would make on you and your loyalty! It is all about working together and maintaining that close relationship by communicating better than ever before. Even when everything appears to be running smoothly, check—and double-check—that all the elements of your supply chain are fit, well, and can deliver on time.

Personal contact can be difficult, but there are many other ways of communicating that we use every day. Perhaps it is a good idea to find a time slot to ring all your key customers and ensure that delivery dates can be met and that all is running smoothly. Not only might you discover a few gremlins in the system but also your customers will be overwhelmed by the care you are giving them in these difficult times. That single call can create a wow factor for customers; they may never have encountered a company bothering in that way before, and it should have a positive effect on their future loyalty.

If a difficult situation arises in the future, you will have shown your customers that you care, and you will be rewarded a hundred times over in years to come.