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Secret Service: Licence to Thrill Your Customers

3rd, March 2009

How can profit be sustained during harsh times?

These days it is hardly surprising that business profits are non-existent. Useful to blame the recession and the government, but the fact is that good service today is almost nonexistent. Indeed let’s be honest, service stinks! And what is the only important factor in delivering service? There can be only one answer: Making others feel valued. None of us feel valued whenever delivery does not match what has been promised. Profit is the applause for the acts of service business performs. To increase profit, you must deliver better-than-excellent service – forgotten secrets that are more vital today than ever before, not only for growth but for survival.

Last week my blackberry stopped receiving data. Upon calling the centre I endured an endless array of electronic choice, adverts and discordant music, before a voice curtly informed me that my number had been cancelled in 2004. After patiently persisting my case that I had successfully received and made calls for the past 5 years, the voice, replying in a tone that conveyed I was attempting something fraudulent, repeated the nightmarish statement: “Well the computer says different”.

Cash flow is not the life’s blood of a business; customers are, for without them there is nothing. A business fails very quickly through a lack of custom. There are only two reasons that any customer buys anything: good feelings and right solutions. We don’t want to be sold mortgages; we want a home. We don’t want to be sold clothes; we want to feel good about our appearance. We don’t want to be sold toys; we want to buy happy moments for our children. We like buying; we don’t like to be sold to. And we buy people not things. That’s what develops customer loyalty. Genuinely making people feel valued with great service.

Great service requires continuous questioning of existing routines and creating something that delivers value. The only competitive advantage a business has is the service it provides. Therefore everyone involved must ask: ‘How would my actions appear on tomorrow’s headlines?’ Delivering what you promise is worth more than all the sincere apologies and make-it-up-to-you gifts in the world.

Good customer service is too important to be passed to some customer relations department. Everybody must be a customer-service ambassador for his or her company because that is how the customer perceives it anyway. Understanding your customer’s perception of your service is vital to successful business. Your customer's perception determines value.

That is what will keep them coming back. People may love buying, but dislike being sold to. So forget selling to them and instead treat your customers like lifetime partners. Imagine, for example, that every week they visited you and at the end of each visit they purchased something from you, how would you treat them?

  1. Never view customers as just another transaction to be processed
  2. Always question routines that may be taken for granted
  3. Treat your customers like you would treat a good friend
  4. Focus on turning one-time buyers into lifetime customers
  5. Never show your customer that they may be wrong
  6. Reward the right behaviour to get the right result
  7. Know that thoughtful service costs less than thoughtless service
  8. Do not let 1% of difficult customers influence how you treat your other 99%
  9. Regularly ask your customers what they think of your service
  10. Making a customer feel valued is everyone’s responsibility

In every business I have either founded, or been involved with, the basic criterion has always been the same. Think service, act service and follow through service to enjoy profitable rewards. Yes, the product or idea must create added value; but so must the service delivered in order for success to be sustained. For this reason I have this month launched a new e-book: Secret Service. Make it your mission to earn a Licence to Thrill Your Customers and create value and profit for your business.