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Win through customer mania!

Companies are doing well when it comes down to customer satisfaction. Or, at least, they think they are. A recent survey performed by consulting firm ‘Bain & Company’ among 362 companies has shown that 80% of them think their customers are satisfied. However, less than 10% of their customers share this opinion!

According to the survey, only a few companies are considered ‘superior’. It seems obvious that you should treat your customers well. In practice however, it is not that obvious at all. Whenever and wherever, you should treat all your customers the way you would like to be treated. It’s as simple as that. No more, no less!

How do you treat your customers? And how would you like to be treated? In supermarkets, restaurants … Your own experiences with your garage owner or your Internet provider, for instance, are most valuable. Practical examples show you what to do or what to avoid. Asking yourself a few simple questions, can already be very useful.
  • Does the salesperson really listen to me? Do I get enough attention?
  • Does (s)he answer my questions quickly or am I being sent from pillar to post?
  • Is (s)he proactive?
  • Do I get standard answers or are my problems being solved in a creative way?
  • How am I being approached? What’s the tone of the conversation?

To put it briefly: as a customer, you need to feel that your questions matter and that your satisfaction is really considered important.

The survey performed by ‘Bain & Company’ has shown that the internal ‘Customer Satisfaction Surveys’ are not properly performed within most companies. Although customers have had enough, most companies don’t get it. Decreasing sales are always being blamed to a lack of innovation, the pricing... You name it! However, the most obvious reason is often neglected: the contact with the customers!

If you neglect your customers, you won’t make it! It’s as simple as that, since unsatisfied customers won’t buy from you anymore. They are gone. Moreover, they will seldom or never come back!

For small companies and one-man businesses, it usually won’t get that bad. They ‘see’ their customers each day. The grocer around the corner talks with his/her customers each day. Consequently, (s)he immediately feels when something is wrong. Large companies often lack this daily ‘exposure’. They are losing the valuable contact with their customers.

All kinds of processes and systems replace the direct contact. Customer questions are dealt with according to a predefined tree structure, for instance. Often, this way of proceeding is required. ‘Scale size’, you know. Still, human contact can never be entirely replaced. It is impossible to uniformize everything since ratio and emotions go hand in hand when it comes down to purchases.

You evaluate the product in a rational way, but everything around it is has to do with feelings. Believe me: the emotional aspects will play an important role the next time you will take a decision about a purchase or choose a restaurant...

Therefore, you should treat your customers the same way you want to be treated. This goes for all employees, at any time and under all circumstances. You should really listen to your customers and give them quick answers.

It is a cascade:

  • Every employee is important.
  • Every customer is important.
Employees who have been properly guided and coached by their executives, will approach their customers in the same way.

In a nutshell:
  1. Focus. Make clear to all of your employees that the quality of their customer contacts must be outstanding under all circumstances. This is a top priority.
  2. Listen. Regularly send out all of your employees, so that they can get on the same wavelength as the customers. And you should also do it yourself!
  3. Be creative. Leave enough elbow room within the procedures for all of your employees, so that they can adequately and quickly react to the customers’ questions and complaints.
  4. Evaluate and learn from it. Perform useful ‘Customer Satisfaction Surveys’ reflecting what really lives among your customers and adjust where necessary.
Good luck!


By Herman van Herterijck

"my ambition is to put the importance of pragmatic and continuous self-coaching on the agenda of current business leaders"

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