Which Customer Matters Most?
Posted by Becky Carroll on February 25, 2008
In a recent post, I gave an example of doing little things to grow a customer relationship. It was a good reminder about using long-term rather than short-term thinking when it comes to customers. An individual could look small now but be coming into a growth period due to their lifestage/change in status. A small business customer today could acquire (or be acquired) tomorrow and become very valuable.
When I was with Peppers and Rogers Group, we spent a lot of time helping clients figure out how to measure this very thing, as well as creating action plans for each customer value segment. Don Peppers and Martha Rogers also wrote a great book about this called Return on Customer. I highly recommend it!
In a down economy, increasing the value of existing customers may be a critical success factor. Here are some questions to ask yourself as you think about your customer base:
Are we focused on growing our business organically through increasing share of wallet with each customer?
Expanding business with existing customers is often the easiest way to grow.
Are we looking for ways to get our community of customers engaged with us to the point where they become “passionistas” for our brand, sharing their enthusiasm with others?
Brand ambassadors can do more for sales than our own marketing departments.
Are we doing something as simple as thanking our existing customers for their continued business – without trying to sell them something?
Whenever I speak to groups, I always get feedback on how many are making a point to simply thank their customers. Most aren’t!
As on most Mondays, I was a guest today on the Big Biz Show, a nationally-syndicated radio program. I was asked which company I considered to be tops at customer service. I answered, “The Disney resorts.” Each Cast Member (ie. employee) at a Disney resort goes out of their way to make each moment magical for guests (visitors). I have had many wonderful experiences myself at Disney resorts, including an experience this past fall where I was overwhelmed by the generosity of a Disney Cast Member.
Over fifty years ago, Disney was one of the first to put customer service first and foremost; today, the Disney resorts are often viewed as a standard for other organizations.
Companies, such as Disney, that are held up as shining examples of customer service or customer focus usually do things a little differently. They view their customer service department as a key contact point with customers – and measure their agents on customer satisfaction rather than talk time. They put the customer experience at the center of their strategy. They hire for people-skills first and foremost. They empower employees to do the right thing for the customer. They set expectations properly – then exceed them. And they consider each interaction with a customer to be critical to the brand experience…
Because you never know who will be your most valuable customer next month – or next year.