3 Easy Ways to Treat Your Customers Right

customer service

It’s simple really: Happy customers will buy more from you and tell more people about you. You want customers buying more and telling more people about you. You want happy customers.

So how do you get happy customers?

  • Treat them well.
  • Respect them.
  • Be honest.
  • Respond quickly.
  • Be open and accessible.

This is all common sense. But common sense isn’t terribly common, is it?

Here are three stories that demonstrate how easily companies can take basic steps to keeping customers happy for life.

  1. Turn your customers into advocates. Andy Sernovitz tells the story of Coffee Cup Software which has a list of 100 customers on its site that anyone can contact for information about the company. I don’t know how the company chose these 100 customers, but it doesn’t matter; they’re giving you unfettered and easy access to them.
  2. Customer Relationship Management = Huge Long Tail Profits? Andrew Wee has a couple great examples of how he’s been treated by various financial institutions. Citibank sent Andrew a personalized cake for his birthday. What did the other 6 or 7 banks/trading companies he uses send him? Nothing. It’s so easy to send personalized, quality gifts and “thank yous” to customers, it just takes a bit of creativity and time. And the will.
  3. You Don’t Even Have To Go An Extra Mile My own story of buying a gift. The cashier took a bit of extra time to make sure I was treated well, and had a great shopping experience. He didn’t have to bend over backwards; he just paid attention to what was going on and made sure I’d remember how pleasant it was to shop at that store.

It really doesn’t take much to treat customers well.

But you have to recognize the value. And then you have to be willing to take a bit more time, get a bit more creative, push a bit further…

It’s well worth it. Treating customers well is the path towards increased customer loyalty, word-of-mouth and business success.

October 8, 2007 Posted in Customer Development by

  • http://www.audiomecca.com/download-music/ Download Music

    All three are great ideas. The first one can be a whopping big one, if we can find out how to do it!
    I too have experienced the third from some vendors and I can assure you, I shall never leave them!

  • http://www.audiomecca.com/download-music/ Download Music

    All three are great ideas. The first one can be a whopping big one, if we can find out how to do it!
    I too have experienced the third from some vendors and I can assure you, I shall never leave them!

  • http://digital-nomads.blogspot.com digitalnomad

    It all makes sense, but there is definitely a bell curve to client relations and client retention.

    People get tired of working with the same people, and want to work with new people. Players also frequently change as well.

    Better be wired to the top brass or owner.

  • http://www.firesnakedesigns.net Chicago Website Designs

    Similar to your list, I find that generally, if you just do a good job, keep and open channel, ask for feedback, and be flexible, customers will be pretty happy with you. Of course it’s easier said than done and sometimes, things are not as simple as that, but if you keep those in mind, I think the customer has no reason to leave you.

  • http://digital-nomads.blogspot.com digitalnomad

    It all makes sense, but there is definitely a bell curve to client relations and client retention.

    People get tired of working with the same people, and want to work with new people. Players also frequently change as well.

    Better be wired to the top brass or owner.

  • http://www.firesnakedesigns.net Chicago Website Designs

    Similar to your list, I find that generally, if you just do a good job, keep and open channel, ask for feedback, and be flexible, customers will be pretty happy with you. Of course it's easier said than done and sometimes, things are not as simple as that, but if you keep those in mind, I think the customer has no reason to leave you.

  • http://www.QuebecValley.com Denis Canuel

    Timely post considering what I had to go though last week (and still going through)…

    http://quebecvalley.com/2007/10/04/why-do-we-take-all-that-crap/

    McDonald’s can treat its customer badly – people will return anyways as they know they can’t expect full customer service from a 15 years old teenager. But getting bad service when you buy top of the line equipment (knowing very well the margin they made) is one sure way of losing customers.

    Just yesterday, I read a newspaper article about Canadians buying cars in USA. Well it said that Honda Canada (among a few other vendors) ignored the US warranty if people imported their cars. The journalist speculated that Honda wanted to keep selling higher margin cars in Canada. Well if someone were actively looking into importing a Honda and were to find out about that, then they wouldn’t buy a Honda in Canada knowing they would get screwed up many $1000′s. They will buy another brand in USA (that’s what I would do anyway).

    So ignoring your customers BEFORE a sale is made is not an interesting option either. Honda Canada has some lessons to learn regarding customer satisfaction.

  • http://www.QuebecValley.com Denis Canuel

    Timely post considering what I had to go though last week (and still going through)…

    http://quebecvalley.com/2007/10/04/why-do-we-ta

    McDonald's can treat its customer badly – people will return anyways as they know they can't expect full customer service from a 15 years old teenager. But getting bad service when you buy top of the line equipment (knowing very well the margin they made) is one sure way of losing customers.

    Just yesterday, I read a newspaper article about Canadians buying cars in USA. Well it said that Honda Canada (among a few other vendors) ignored the US warranty if people imported their cars. The journalist speculated that Honda wanted to keep selling higher margin cars in Canada. Well if someone were actively looking into importing a Honda and were to find out about that, then they wouldn't buy a Honda in Canada knowing they would get screwed up many $1000's. They will buy another brand in USA (that's what I would do anyway).

    So ignoring your customers BEFORE a sale is made is not an interesting option either. Honda Canada has some lessons to learn regarding customer satisfaction.

  • http://www.rebeccalaffarsmith.com Rebecca Laffar-Smith

    Great Tips, Ben!

    I think another important thing to remember is that every relationship matters. You may have someone come to you that never buys anything but they are still potential money. Not because they might take their own wallet out of their pocket but their connections to others could bring you thousands of dollars.

    In the same way, don’t forget the little guy. We often see people bending over backwards to please the high rollers but these people rarely acknowledge or appreciate this attention. The dime store owner from Deli however not only truly appreciates even a kind word or a smile but will be eager to return the respect, and spread the word.

  • http://www.rebeccalaffarsmith.com Rebecca Laffar-Smith

    Great Tips, Ben!

    I think another important thing to remember is that every relationship matters. You may have someone come to you that never buys anything but they are still potential money. Not because they might take their own wallet out of their pocket but their connections to others could bring you thousands of dollars.

    In the same way, don't forget the little guy. We often see people bending over backwards to please the high rollers but these people rarely acknowledge or appreciate this attention. The dime store owner from Deli however not only truly appreciates even a kind word or a smile but will be eager to return the respect, and spread the word.

  • http://www.instigatorblog.com Ben Yoskovitz

    Thank you all for the comments.

    @Rebecca: Don’t forget the little guy is a mantra that all businesses should have. You never know when little guys will become big guys, right?

    It’s good practice to always find the opportunity in every relationship, big or small, and make sure those relationships are well-maintained.

  • http://www.instigatorblog.com Ben Yoskovitz

    @Denis: I saw the same article – and it’s funny because I am thinking about buying a car in the US. The problem is the hassle + time it takes to do so. People have to weigh that against the savings. But if you’re buying a higher end car you can save $10k+ … and that’s well worth the hassle.

  • http://www.quebecvalley.com Denis Canuel

    Ben: Getting off topic but who cares :) FYI, I imported my car a few years ago when I left the USA and moved back to Canada. Unless things changed radically since 2003, it’s very easy, trust me.

  • http://goodwordediting.com Mark Goodyear

    I agree with everyone, Ben. This is a great post. For me it comes down to treating people right–even when my service isn’t going to specifically accomplish something for me.

    Ultimately, my work isn’t about selling a product or idea or even making money. It’s about the people I meet as I go about my work.

  • http://www.instigatorblog.com Ben Yoskovitz

    Thank you all for the comments.

    @Rebecca: Don't forget the little guy is a mantra that all businesses should have. You never know when little guys will become big guys, right?

    It's good practice to always find the opportunity in every relationship, big or small, and make sure those relationships are well-maintained.

  • http://www.instigatorblog.com Ben Yoskovitz

    @Denis: I saw the same article – and it's funny because I am thinking about buying a car in the US. The problem is the hassle + time it takes to do so. People have to weigh that against the savings. But if you're buying a higher end car you can save $10k+ … and that's well worth the hassle.

  • http://www.quebecvalley.com Denis Canuel

    Ben: Getting off topic but who cares :) FYI, I imported my car a few years ago when I left the USA and moved back to Canada. Unless things changed radically since 2003, it's very easy, trust me.

  • http://goodwordediting.com Mark Goodyear

    I agree with everyone, Ben. This is a great post. For me it comes down to treating people right–even when my service isn't going to specifically accomplish something for me.

    Ultimately, my work isn't about selling a product or idea or even making money. It's about the people I meet as I go about my work.

  • http://www.NewHomesSection.com Rick

    I couldn’t agree more. I’ve been in sales for many years, and I’ve found that treating customers/clients with respect, dignity, and most importantly with courtesy will mean more sales and more referrals. Like you mentioned this is common knowledge, but we often fail to go above and beyond to make our customers/clients feel special; which is something every business should strive to do.

  • http://www.NewHomesSection.com Rick

    I couldn't agree more. I've been in sales for many years, and I've found that treating customers/clients with respect, dignity, and most importantly with courtesy will mean more sales and more referrals. Like you mentioned this is common knowledge, but we often fail to go above and beyond to make our customers/clients feel special; which is something every business should strive to do.

  • http://customersrock.wordpress.com Becky Carroll

    Ben, thanks for the shout-out to Customers Rock! Your post is music to my ears. Sometimes it is indeed the little things that make all the difference between a positive, memorable interaction and a non-event. We want our customers to walk away thinking, Wow – I was really treated well there!

    It doesn’t take much – a sincere smile, an honest inquiry, or even just listening to customers (which I would add as another bullet in your list).

    Keep it going, Ben. You rock!

  • http://customersrock.wordpress.com Becky Carroll

    Ben, thanks for the shout-out to Customers Rock! Your post is music to my ears. Sometimes it is indeed the little things that make all the difference between a positive, memorable interaction and a non-event. We want our customers to walk away thinking, Wow – I was really treated well there!

    It doesn't take much – a sincere smile, an honest inquiry, or even just listening to customers (which I would add as another bullet in your list).

    Keep it going, Ben. You rock!

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  • http://www.instigatorblog.com Ben Yoskovitz

    Mark — But making money is OK too, right? *smile*

    I have no problems building great relationships with people – be they partners, contacts, customers, etc. – for the purposes of earning a living. In fact, when I wrote recently about social media, I said, “You should ‘use’ people, but also be willing to be ‘used’.” The term “used” is a bit harsh, but I wrote it that way on purpose, because social media isn’t just a big campfire party…

    @Rick: Common sense isn’t so common. One of my favorite sayings, even though I even forget that some times!

    @Becky: The name of your blog hooked me instantly. “Customers Rock” … *chuckle* … it works on so many levels.

  • http://goodwordediting.com Mark Goodyear

    Sure it’s okay to make money! We need money for food, shelter, clothes, etc. It’s nice to have some extra for fun stuff, too. It’s nice to give some away to folks who have less.

    I just meant that the money and sales will follow if we pursue relationships honestly and confidently. I think of this as the No Amway Rule. I knew people in Amway who thought of every new friend as a prospective Amway person. I see folks do this online too. Every new reader/visitor/subscriber is just a prospective client.

    The more we treat readers/visitors/subscribers as real people the better. That means we put the relationship first. Then, if I have a good business model, the sales will follow.

  • http://www.instigatorblog.com Ben Yoskovitz

    Mark — But making money is OK too, right? *smile*

    I have no problems building great relationships with people – be they partners, contacts, customers, etc. – for the purposes of earning a living. In fact, when I wrote recently about social media, I said, “You should 'use' people, but also be willing to be 'used'.” The term “used” is a bit harsh, but I wrote it that way on purpose, because social media isn't just a big campfire party…

    @Rick: Common sense isn't so common. One of my favorite sayings, even though I even forget that some times!

    @Becky: The name of your blog hooked me instantly. “Customers Rock” … *chuckle* … it works on so many levels.

  • http://goodwordediting.com Mark Goodyear

    Sure it's okay to make money! We need money for food, shelter, clothes, etc. It's nice to have some extra for fun stuff, too. It's nice to give some away to folks who have less.

    I just meant that the money and sales will follow if we pursue relationships honestly and confidently. I think of this as the No Amway Rule. I knew people in Amway who thought of every new friend as a prospective Amway person. I see folks do this online too. Every new reader/visitor/subscriber is just a prospective client.

    The more we treat readers/visitors/subscribers as real people the better. That means we put the relationship first. Then, if I have a good business model, the sales will follow.

  • http://www.online-paid-surveys.net Jim

    Good tips for how to treat our customer well. We can’t live without income, to build a business and to maintain it well, we should always think of how to enhance our business better and to treat our customer well as they are our main target. Is important that we have to be honestly in doing business, provide fast response and always remain a good attitude. Relationship between business people and customer is very important and we to maintain it well.

  • http://www.online-paid-surveys.net Jim

    Good tips for how to treat our customer well. We can't live without income, to build a business and to maintain it well, we should always think of how to enhance our business better and to treat our customer well as they are our main target. Is important that we have to be honestly in doing business, provide fast response and always remain a good attitude. Relationship between business people and customer is very important and we to maintain it well.

  • http://www.instigatorblog.com Ben Yoskovitz

    @Mark: Yup, we’re on the same page. I knew we were, but it doesn’t hurt to keep the discussion alive via comments. *smile*

    @Jim: My #1 pet peeve (as is the case with many people) when it comes to dealing with businesses is poor customer support. In every business I’ve been involved with that’s been a huge focus: response times, being respectful, answering questions properly, honesty. Even a twinge of better customer service is enough for me to stay loyal to one business vs. another.

  • http://www.instigatorblog.com Ben Yoskovitz

    @Mark: Yup, we're on the same page. I knew we were, but it doesn't hurt to keep the discussion alive via comments. *smile*

    @Jim: My #1 pet peeve (as is the case with many people) when it comes to dealing with businesses is poor customer support. In every business I've been involved with that's been a huge focus: response times, being respectful, answering questions properly, honesty. Even a twinge of better customer service is enough for me to stay loyal to one business vs. another.

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Ben Yoskovitz
I'm VP Product at GoInstant (acq. by Salesforce).

I'm also a Founding Partner at Year One Labs, an early stage accelerator in Montreal. Previously I founded Standout Jobs (and sold it).

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