Committing to the Customer… Forever

Photo cred: Jose Téllez

How does your business view its relationships with customers?  It’s very easy, and common, to withdraw commitment to helping a customer once they make the purchase…but the relationship should be more than a sale.

Sometimes there’s a formal arrangement.  Sometimes the customer has to pay for any help after a purchase.

If a business is really there to help, however, they should view every purchase as a long term commitment to making that customer’s experience amazing.

Even if the customer has no intention of buying more products, you should provide them with as much help as possible (within reason, of course).

If I buy a camera from an electronics store and I have a question, I should feel confident in asking an employee for advice long after I bought the camera.  Because I bought that camera from them, the store should make sure that my overall experience with that camera, and their brand, is a great one.

Hell, even if I didn’t buy it from them, helping me out provides them with the opportunity to build trust and loyalty with a new customer.

Take it further and straight up ask your customers to come back for help.  Apple is a great example with their genius bar.  They want their customers to be happy with the product they bought, even if there’s no guarantee of future purchases.

Your relationship with a customer shouldn’t stop at the sale…the relationship shouldn’t stop at all.

12 thoughts on “Committing to the Customer… Forever

  1. Great points, David. You can’t be a “one and done” company where you’re satisfied with making one sale. Taking care of your customers and encouraging them to *remain* a customer is where you’re going to make the big bucks. Some of that is delivering an awesome product, some of it is delivering an incredible overall experience, and some of it is providing excellent support (among other things).

    Basically, it’s probably cheaper to keep your existing customers than it is to go out and find a new one.

    1. That’s true…and as I mentioned in the post, it’s smart to help those that aren’t your customers yet, because if you provide great service, you’ll quickly convert them to loyal customers.

  2. Love this post, so short but so packed with wisdom. Sustainable, profitable business can not ignore the long-term implications of a short-term, transaction based perspective.

  3. What about the reverse side? As customers, every time we buy something these days we have to deal with e-mails, newsletters, sale notifications, blah blah blah. Why can’t we just go into a store, trade money for goods, and leave it at that?

    You want to make a customers experience amazing? Sell them a product that does what you say it does and don’t ask them to sign up for anything.

    1. Well, that deals more with opt-in type promotions. I’m sure there are plenty of customers that never want to hear from the company again after buying the product…and that should be their choice. I’m just saying that they should have the option to come back and still be treated with great service if they want.

      1. Well if the point is that good customer service is better than bad customer service, isn’t that obvious? That’s like saying having a higher quality product is better than a lower quality product, the problem is how it affects your price point.

        If you want to hire people to be able to field customers, you will obviously need to spend money on it. Do you adjust for this in the products price or by cutting other expenses?

        If the former, at what point would it stop being profitable? You can only charge so much before nobody cares how good your customer service is.
        If the latter then what do you cut? How do you gauge how much your customer service is adding to your bottom line?

        1. The point was a lot more than good customer service is bad than customer service. The point was that customer service shouldn’t be limited to the time of the sale. It should be a long-term commitment.

          Not everything is going to be measurable in terms of the bottom line. So no, you can’t always tell how much customer service drives sales. You can track things like sentiment, and you can compare sales after implementing better customer service to before you implemented it. I bet you that a customer will return to a company to buy a product more often if they know that the company is there to help them. Might it cost a little more? Sure…but so does most other forms of marketing/advertising.

  4. This rings even more true when you think about the transparency of online. Make a customer happy and they might send a tweet recommending you. Make them really happy, go out of your way to satisfy them and they could spread the word about you even wider to their community.
    Now, more than ever, it’s important what people think about you, as they’re probably not going to keep their opinions to themselves, good or bad.

    1. Exactly. The happier you can make your current customers, the more they’ll repay you. I’ve heard people discuss the concept of dropping all promotional efforts, and just putting all their focus in product development and customer service. While I don’t think it’s realistic, it’s a great concept to keep in mind.

  5. Thanks for the post David- great info. I think more businesses are starting to realize the importance of engaging the customer throughout the entire buying and ownership cycle. Sometimes I wonder if enough companies understand that the amount of time spent purchasing the product or service is a small percentage compared to the rest of the process. If you only jump on board when the customer is ready to buy, you’ll be forgotten. I think it comes down to knowing your customers and what they value. Again, great post. Thanks for sharing!

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