I recently spoke with a woman who told me that because her company cut her pay by 30%, she would cut her effort (to the customer) by 30%. Wow! This comment made me think about ideas for doing business in tough economic times. Ideas centered around “fear based” issues as a result of the economy, such as how to keep customers loyal, avoid price reductions, manage employee morale during layoffs and more. What follows is my overall response to some of these issues.
This economy gives us an opportunity. Now, more than ever customer service to both customers and employees (internal customers) is paramount to the success of any company. With customers tightening their spending, this is the chance for vendors to prove to their customers that they value their business in good times and bad – and that the relationship is more important than the sale.
The same goes for employees. The potential for apathy, even anger, from an employee is high as employee morale potentially slips due to layoffs, wage cuts etc. Management must create an environment that fosters loyalty, both inside and outside of the company, in spite of the tough decisions they have to make.
Here are just three simple lessons that will help you deal with some of the above questions and concerns. Don’t be fooled by their simplicity. They are powerful and can help build a strategy to create loyal customers, even in tough economic times.
1. Treat employees like you want the customer treated – maybe even better. (This is one of my favourites and I’ve been preaching it for a long time.) It starts at the top. Be an example of the behaviour you want employees to exhibit to their customers and their fellow employees.
2. recognise that a satisfied customer (and employee) is not a loyal customer. This is a big mistake many companies make; thinking that they want satisfied customers. “Satisfactory” is a rating – and an average rating at that. Loyalty is more of a bond, even an emotion – a feeling that a customer or employee gets from consistent positive customer experiences and a feeling of confidence about the company. Focus on being better than satisfactory – better than average. Be so good that customers and employees become loyal.
3. recognise that all of the advertising and marketing dollars don’t mean anything if an employee doesn’t treat the customer in a way that is consistent with your brand promise. This can be tricky in tough times, which is why controlling employee morale is so important. Employees should be an extension of all of your marketing and advertising efforts. When they deliver on the promise and create an amazing customer experience, customer confidence goes up, which transforms into customer loyalty.
Don’t be fooled by the simplicity of these strategies. They are powerful and can help build a strategy to create loyal customers, even in tough economic times.
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