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Loyalty or Lip Service?

What Your Customers Actually Think About You

If you are halfway good at what you do, and you can do it with a good attitude, chances are you can make your customers happy.  Regardless of what product or service you sell, you get new clients for one of two main reasons; 1) You have the lowest price at the time or 2) you have the best service and or reputation for what you do.  That could mean anything from customer service to delivery times to account management and follow-up.  In addition to that, there are two main WAYS that most businesses get customers; 1) through direct or indirect selling activities, and 2) from referrals from other clients.

Contrary to popular belief, you don’t make your own reputation; others make it for you based on what they say about you.  True enough, we cannot control the words that may come from anyone else’s mouth, but we can have an impact on it.  At this time, more than ever, businesses and consumers have access to vast amounts of information instantly.  Statistically, 65% of Internet users see online search as the most trusted source of information about people and companies.  Additionally, 85% of consumers use the Internet for research before making a purchasing decision.  Those statistics probably are not very shocking to you, but the next on may be; 79% of consumers place equal weight on both online reviews and personal recommendations according to a 2013 BrightLocal Consumer Review Survey.  In other words, nearly 8 out of 10 people trust the validity of an online review just as much as a recommendation from a friend!

In recent years, we have seen the emergence of so-called reputation management firms.  Their mission is to monitor your company’s online reputation and try to head off any negative, misleading or inaccurate information before it becomes damaging.  The most amazing thing about this new industry is that it was spawned because we live in an age where, not only do consumers have access to information about business, but also businesses have more information about consumers.  Businesses want to know their customers opinions, because they say it will lead to a better overall customer experience.  Customers want to be heard, particularly if they have had a bad experience.  Potential customers are looking for help making a buying decision so they read anonymous online reviews.  Now in comes the “Reputation Managers”, whose sole purpose is to search and destroy (so to speak).  At the end of the day, they simply try to remove all negative reviews and complaints from the Internet.  Really?  Is that what customer service has been reduced to?

This brings me back to my original question; what are your customers actually saying about you?  If you do not know, I think it may be time to find out.  Just because they are a repeat customer does not mean that they are loyal.  It could just mean that you have the lowest price or the closest location or the quickest turnaround time.  It does not mean that your customer is always satisfied.  It may just mean that they have settled for the lesser of two or three evils.  What are your customers really saying about you?  How do they really feel about your company?  About your products or service?  About your staff?  About your BRAND?  Don’t go out and hire some big fancy firm to survey your customers for you.  Customers actually hate that unless there is some sort of prize or sweepstakes at the end.  Why not just ask them the next time they call or place an order.  Why not send them an email and ask how you could make their experience with your company better.  Ask them on the next delivery what you could do to make sure that the competition has no chance of taking their business from you.  ASK THEM!  If the neighborhood burger joint can ask every customer if they want fries with their burger, then we can ask our clients if there is anything else we can do to help them.  Keep in mind, the only way you can ask, is if you have a relationship with your customers.  Mama told me never to talk to strangers!

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