GROWING YOUR BUSINESS: Great customer service on a budget

Growing your businessby Dan Beaulieu
Business consultant

You don’t have to spend a lot of money to deliver great customer service.

Imagine a barber shop on Main street in your town. This shop is in fact the most popular in town. The barber, Fred, seems to know everyone’s name. He knows all about their family, what they do for a living and most importantly, how they like their hair cut, how often they come in and all kinds of other little things about them.

“How does he do it?” I can hear one of you asking. “He must have a very expensive customer service computerized systems?” Another one of you is thinking. Or maybe he just has an incredible memory for minutia? No, it is none of those things. Do you want to know what he has? Do you wonder what kind of customer retention plan he has invested in?

His shop is always busy. No one has ever seen the shop empty. He has never been seen sitting in his own barber chair reading the paper.

His business is successful. He bought that beautiful old Garland house on Birch Street last year, so he has to be doing well.

Fred seems to know everything about his customers. What they want. What they need. He knows when to offer them that special straight razor shave that he gets premium dollars for. He has a deep personal knowledge of all of his customers and what they want.

Okay, here is his big secret. Are you ready for this? He keeps a three by five index card of each of his customers. He has a set of questions that he wants answered on each of them and then he adds to them as he learns more about them.

The whole system cost him about five bucks a year…and the time and effort and passion for his business that it takes to make it a great and successful business.

And do the customers come back? Oh, do they ever. Everybody likes to be known, everybody has a comfort zone for someone who cares enough about them as customers to learn all they can about them and what they want.

This is the very essence of a good CRM (Customer Retention Management) System. That’s all it takes. A little effort and a few index cards and you’ll have the best CRM system money can buy.

In the end all business is people business, and all great businesses care enough about their customers to take the time to learn, not on what they need, but also what they want. These businesses are what is called Customer-centric businesses. And being customer centric is the very best way to grow your business.


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