If you run your own business, you’ll understand that great service is paramount when it comes to customer retention and reputation. In fact, research commissioned by Opus Energy revealed small business owners often go above and beyond to make their firms a success. As a result, entrepreneurs work the equivalent of 17 days overtime each year compared to other UK workers.
But let’s not forget that customer behaviour towards you, your firm and your staff are equally important too. So, what makes a good customer and how can you in turn, as a business owner, be a good client to others?
Good customers are proactive
Good customers are efficient and proactive. On a basic level this can mean paying for products and services on time. While that’s not necessarily an issue if you sell tangible items online or in physical stores; it can become tricky if customers fail to pay or even acknowledge invoices for professional services – such as bookkeeping or graphic design. Inevitably this can lead to cash flow issues as well as eat into precious time if you’re constantly having to chase up payment.
Considerate customers also respect any conditions or limitations set out – for example, adhering to a returns policy. In this example, good customers recognise that if there’s a problem, it’s up to them to seize the initiative and try to resolve the issue within the specified time frame.
But good customers (like successful entrepreneurs) do more than just meet their financial promises and adhere to terms and conditions. Great customers go that extra mile and actively champion your services. This could mean taking the time to leave positive feedback, testimonials or recommending your businesses to others – all of which boosts your reputation.
Good customers look for partnerships
Good customers typically look to foster long-term relations, and this can be particularly true if your business provides a service. In this scenario, good customers will work with you to create a mutually beneficial working relationship. This could be as simple as giving you the information you need in order to fulfil that service to the best of your ability. For example – ensuring data is accurate or providing enough information to create effective marketing material.
Good customers appreciate that getting the best service from you and your business ultimately means investing time in order to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes. Naturally, some customers won’t be looking to invest in a partnership and in many cases, so long as you get paid and they’re happy with the product or service – that’s perfectly OK. Unfortunately, with some customers the relationship is only ever one-sided which can put a strain on your business and could even end up with you neglecting other clients.
Good customers have high expectations
Having high expectations isn’t the same as being demanding. Good customers will expect your best products and services, but they understand that what they get, can only be as good as what they put in (after all, it is a partnership).
A good example is the adage ‘you get what you pay for’. For instance, if customers are paying slightly more than the average for something, they’ll expect that to be reflected in the quality of the product. On the other hand, a demanding customer expects top quality but is only willing to pay rock bottom prices.
Similarly, if you’re providing a service, good clients will expect to get the best value for their money which could occasionally mean you need to overcome certain challenges. Importantly, these challenges are likely to result in valuable lessons that will help you develop your own skills and business for the future. Good customers will also be clear on why they’re challenging you and work with you to resolve the issue.
On the flip side, difficult and demanding customers will nit-pick but be unable or unwilling to provide concrete or measurable ways to resolve problems.
When to admit you can’t please everyone
Ultimately, not all customers are good ones and as a business owner, that can be hard to accept. Yet it’s crucial to do so because investing your time in customers that are impossible to please places a huge burden on you and your staff. That burden isn’t just in terms of time or personnel, it can also have a negative impact on your own emotional wellbeing.
If you find yourself in a difficult situation with a client, it’s worth discussing the issues at hand. Some customers might genuinely be unaware of any problems in which case, working through them together can bring about a resolution.
Sadly though, there will be some customers that will never be happy, no matter how accommodating you are. In these circumstances, ensuring you’re calm, objective and sympathetic to your mutual difficulties can help you both part ways amicably.
Develop your business and earn the clients you deserve
At Grow My Small Business, we understand how the practical need to grow your customer base can often take priority over cutting ties with problem clients.
As part of our coaching and mentoring service, we can help you develop the skills you need to navigate such challenges. Whether that’s focusing on your own personal development as an entrepreneur or building business resilience that will give you the power to say ‘no’.
For more information about how we can help, drop us a note via our contact form or call us on 01473 561023.