Speaker Sees Customer Service as Key to Building Referral Base

by WOHe

Speaker Sees Customer Service as Key to Building
Referral Base

Knoxville, TN When it comes to building a referral base, the
trick is keeping existing customers happy. Fortunately, “It’s easy
to improve your customer service,” claims David Newton, CKD, CBD,
David Newton & Associates, based here. “All it requires is a
little thought and some effort.”
 
Newton advises kitchen and bath dealers looking to build future
business “to become famous for your service,” which will keep
customers happy, keep them coming back for more and encourage them
to refer friends to your business.

Newton believes that referrals come when customers recognize and
appreciate the extra effort put forth by dealers. And the more
creative the effort, the more customers will remember your firm in
a sea of dealers. “Deliver the unexpected, since everybody expects
service,” advises Newton. “Go the extra mile for your customers,
and meet their needs.” Make them feel like family, adds
Newton.

But what, exactly, are your customers’ needs? Newton suggests
creating focus groups to gain perspective, and find out what your
customers really want. Include former, present and potential
clients, as well as suppliers, vendors and those from NKBA chapter
programs and other related businesses. “Focus groups will keep your
company on track with up-to-date feedback,” says
Newton. 

Once dealers identify customer needs, Newton suggests they come up
with a plan of action and stick to it. Make sure your employees
follow it, as well. Here, Newton offers some ways to improve
your customer service:

  • Solve customer complaints A.S.A.P. “People do not like to wait;
    rather, they should be kept informed,” Newton advises. Newton
    offers this complaint-solving formula: Greet and develop a rapport;
    gather information; make suggestions; and solve the problem and
    (hopefully) close the sale.
  • Initiate employee empowerment. Give employees the power to make
    decisions and solve problems. This way, says Newton, customers can
    feel they can trust employees, and are not kept waiting for
    answers/solutions to their questions or problems.
  • Keep staff and reduce turnover. Make employees feel part of the
    family, says Newton, and treat them well. This will make them want
    to stay, and it will also build trust among your customers, because
    they will see the same familiar faces they are used to dealing
    with, says Newton.
  • Keep training up-to-date. Make sure your employees are educated
    about the latest product knowledge and sales and customer service
    techniques so that they can offer the best knowledge and service to
    your customers, notes Newton.
  • Better communication makes better customers and employees. This
    where a mission statement that reflects your company and your
    position in the industry comes in, says Newton. It should be fairly
    simple, since “too many rules will put you out of business,” notes
    Newton. 
  • Make your customers know about it, and make sure employees are
    aware of it, understand it and stick to it, to effect better
    customer service, adds Newton. Be sure your mission statement also
    stresses the importance of communication with customers, clients
    and employees, Newton further suggests.
  • Serve the internal customer first. While it’s important to
    deliver the best customer service possible to both customers in the
    showroom and the end-user, you need to put customers in the
    showroom first, according to Newton. Thoser are the customers who
    are right there waiting for you, and again, people don’t like to
    wait, stresses Newton.
  • Establish employee Kazian teams. Set up teams of employees that
    meet regularly for problem-solving and brainstorming, suggests
    Newton.
  • Determine the “root cause” of service-related problems.
    Problems need to be addressed, of course, but one must look not
    just at the immediat problem, but at the root cause, as well. To
    effectively define the “root cause” of such problems, Newton
    advises dealers ask employees why at least five times. Question
    each answer to get to the bottom of the problem, says Newton, since
    the problem may not be easily discernible at first
    glance.
  • Implement an open-door policy. Make yourself accessible and
    open to the needs of customers, associates and suppliers, says
    Newton. Making those around feel that they can come to you with
    suggestions or problems will allow you to deliver better customer
    service.
  • Encourage customer follow-up. Finally, make sure you and your
    employees practice the art of following up, says Newton. This
    includes phone calls, thank-you letters/cards, survey and small
    gifts of appreciation. Little things like that will get you
    positive feedback, as well as give your customers a good feeling
    such a good feeling that they will come back, and recommend you to
    others.

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