I overheard last week two friends discussing about their eagerness to shift from their usual-long-time service provider to this new company that has just arrived on the Rwandan market.
Lucile explained that she had always felt neglected and maltreated with her service provider but had to remain there because she had no other alternative.
Even though she had been their customer for over four years, she thought now was the right time to pay them back for having taken her for granted.
“I’ll convince all my friends and relatives to quit and join me at this new company. I’m sure they will treat us better and satisfy our needs as customers” Lucie kept on rambling.
I sat listening and had a difficult time trying to convince them that “the devil you know is sometimes better than the angel you don’t know” but none of my arguments could convince them.
That is when I remembered this quotation by Sam Walton, owner and founder of the Wall Mart in USA “There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else.”
As a business owner, do you realize that your customers have the ability to sack you from your business by spending their money elsewhere? Do you know that the customer is the most important person in your company?
Do you know that he/she ultimately pays your salary? You can always fool or abuse your customers but one day, they will pay you back.
Statistics show that an unhappy customer informs averagely ten people. Have you ever thought of what your customers were telling their friends and relatives about your services and products?
A customer is the lifeblood of every business and business owners and managers must always strive to be in tune with what their customers think, feel and say about their services.
On average, it costs 5 times more to get a new customer than to keep an existing one. Yet there are so many companies that spend millions on advertising and almost nothing on ways of keeping their customers satisfied.
By focusing on advertisement and sales many companies often neglect customer retention. Just look at the large expensive advertising billboards in town? There are so many at every corner of the city.
How I wish these companies spend at least 10% of their advertising budget on maintaining their customers satisfaction.
I’m not against advertising but my point here is that business owners need to understand that big advertising campaigns do not yield many results as much as improving on service delivery.
Will Rogers says that “If advertisers spent the same amount of money on improving their products as they do on advertising then they wouldn’t have to advertise them.”
A happy customer is your best advertising agent. People will always believe the good testimonials of other customers rather than a well-written over-promising-advert.
The word-of mouth advertising is one of the most credible forms of advertising because a person puts his/her reputation on the line every time he/she makes a recommendation on your behalf.
The word-of-mouth advertising is defined as an unpaid form of promotion in which satisfied customers tell other people how much they like a business, product or service.
You van benefit from a positive word-of-mouth advertising is if only your customers receive more than what they had expected or paid for. Believe me dear reader that if your customers are happy with your services, you need not to be afraid of competition.
A simple example of the importance of a word-of-mouth advertising is with my tomatoes sellers at the Kimironko market.
I talk about her during all my training sessions and all those who go to the Kimironko market always look for her. She has since then increased her number of clients through the good welcoming she offers her customers. No other type of advertising is more powerful than word of mouth.
Of course, advertising alone doesn’t generate long-term sales or business growth. If you advertise, you need to make sure that the promised services and products are equal to your service delivery.
Your team people have an important role after you have advertised. They should be the main resources and pillar upon which you base your advertisement.
According to the London School of Economics and Political, positive word of mouth advertising pays the following dividends:
• 7 percent increase in positive word of mouth unlocks 1 percent additional company growth
• 2 percent reduction in negative word of mouth boosts sales by 1 percent
Companies with the above average positive word of mouth grow four times as fast as those with below-average positive word of mouth.
If you want to benefit from positive free word of mouth advertising, go beyond the average sub standard service delivery. Never lose sight of the fact that word of mouth advertising can also be the worst advertising.
Decide today to invest more time, energy, focus and money on good customer service and you will see the results on the free publicity that your customers will do for you. Your customers will become your ambassadors and you will save on your usual advertising budget.
The author is a customer service expert working in Rwanda.