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Cheer Up: 5 Questions That Can Help Ensure Happy Customers

Having a flock of happy customers is like having your own agency.

A major study by a commission of business experts found that the typical happy customer will tell three friends or business associates about you. Word-of-mouth advertising through satisfied customers influences people to buy a product or service more often than all other forms of advertising put together.

Don't relax too much. The study also found that people who are unhappy with you will tell, on average, nine or ten friends. Negative comments are even more effective in destroying business than positive comments are in building it. It takes nine or ten positive comments to overcome one negative comment.

How can you keep customers satisfied enough to say nice things about you and keep doing business with you without losing money and working yourself to death? Building your business around repeat customers is the best way.

To keep your customers coming back, you need strategies. They should be aimed at keeping your organization easy to understand, easy and pleasant to work with, dependable, adequate to meet all of your customer's needs, and able to deliver all that it promises.

Here are five questions you can use to assess how customer-friendly you and your staff are in serving your customers:

  1. Do our customers feel that we show enough care and concern about their needs and problems?
  2. Does every staff person who has contact with our customers have the ability, the authority, and the resources to fulfill any reasonable request?
  3. How skilled are we at helping customers solve their own problems? Do they look upon us as helpful experts?
  4. How quickly and easily do we solve problems that arise from doing business with us? Do our customers feel we are careful not to make mistakes, but that we will correct them promptly and cheerfully when they do occur?
  5. How do our customers find it easier and more satisfying to work with us than with our competitors? If, for example, we charge more for our services, is there enough difference to justify our higher prices?

These may not be easy questions to answer, but they are vital to maintaining a mutually satisfying continuing relationship with our customers. They're the kinds of things that make a business both customer-friendly and profitable.

Nido Qubein is an international speaker and accomplished author on sales, communication, and leadership. He is president of High Point University, which has an enrollment of 4,000 students. He is also chairman of Great Harvest Bread Company with 220 stores in 43 states.

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