Keeping Customers Satisfied

Winning the business is hard work.  Keeping it is often taken for granted.  Lots of attention is lavished on the prospect during the “courting stages” prior to the sale being consummated.  Once the product or service has been delivered, attention to the customer often falls by the wayside as the salesperson looks for new opportunities.  This is a big mistake.  Studies have shown that people seek alternatives not so much because of poor quality or high prices, but because they don’t feel appreciated.

Most people have a subconscious “satisfaction index.”  Subconsciously they form impressions of their vendor relationships.  They assign adjectives to describe those relationships from highly satisfied to neutral to dissatisfied (and maybe a few other adjectives as well).

How do we know we are satisfied with a business relationship?  Simple.

Customer Satisfaction = Performance – Expectations

Satisfaction is a function of actual performance versus expectations.  If you want repeat business and a never-ending supply of referrals, exceed your client’s expectations.  Over-deliver.  This is the key to success in business.

All too often salespeople (and the companies they represent) over-promise and under-deliver.  They do not exceed their client’s expectations – just the opposite.  Perhaps they are under pressure to win the business and are willing to exaggerate somewhat to improve the perception of their offering, or maybe they simply have an inflated belief in their product or service’s benefits.  Whatever the reason, failing to exceed your client’s expectations makes your job that much more difficult.

Here are some simple ideas to exceed expectations:

  • Handle problems quickly and completely (with a smile).
  • Keep them informed, not surprised.
  • Give them something extra at no charge.
  • Go the extra mile when you have the opportunity to do so.
  • Make it a habit to thank them for their business on a regular basis.

Remember, your new customer is your competition’s best prospect.

Self-Study Assignment:  Take a few minutes to make two lists: things you do that create dissatisfied clients and things you can do to exceed their expectations.  Evaluate your major client relationships objectively to determine their satisfaction index.  Create action plans to correct problem areas.