It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.
— Warren Buffett
YESTERDAY, a very interesting thing happened to us. A group of MasteryAsia staff members went out for lunch together at the nearby kopitiam.
As everyone went on to buy or ordered their lunches from the various stalls dotting the shop, one of them decided to order char koay teow for lunch from an older man running a stall around the corner.
Paying little attention during the rush hour, the stall owner promptly forgot about the order, causing one of us to wait for over half an hour before he remembered the order!
This led to an unhappy staff member, hungry for their lunch and a general agreement between in the group over the lacklustre service.
The stall owner, sensing that he had an unhappy customer at his hands and knowing that the fault was entirely his own, decided to offer humble apologies and even a small token discount for the meal in order to soften the mistake made.
The apology and discount soothed angry tempers and made such impression upon the group that talk of that simple act went on for hours afterwards. More than that, as demonstrated by that incident, was the inspiration and catalyst for a new article about service and going beyond for your customers.
As it stood, there is a threefold lesson to be had.
1. Are you providing good customer service to your customer every step of the way?
Think back to the last time you received bad or subpar quality service from a business. Remember the times that you had that you, as the customer, felt when receiving said product or service.
Perhaps your product is the best there is out in the market. It is perfectly tailored to your customer’s exact wants and needs and you know you have a winning product on your hands.
However, no one likes to be on the receiving end of bad service, and a business that provides said service points to a lack of customer-oriented focus. A business exists because they are here to fulfil a need, and customers can and will reject businesses that do not prioritise that need, as shown by a report from eMarketer.
Great customer service can overcome terrible marketing, but it’s incredibly difficult to replace poor customer service when your customers are no longer there.
So many newer, smaller businesses can stand to remember the old adage that the customer is king, and tailor their business approach to fit their customers. Many, in an effort to discard older truisms and cut corners, forego the most important aspect of business – the customers’ needs and wants.
Unconsciously or not, the char koay teow seller had done the following to perfection and created success for himself.
- Established a rapport with his base
- When he failed to understand their needs, via their need for speedy delivery of their lunch, he kept communicating with them after in order to understand their needs.
- He had observed an unhappy customer and decided to do something about it. This leads to the second point.
2. What steps are you taking to retain existing customers and attract new ones to you?
In the same example, the seller had made mistakes in his order, causing a long wait and an unhappy customer. Most businesses, when faced with an irate customer with genuine grievances and issues, would rather ignore the problem and hope it goes away.
While that is one way, the result is the loss of future businesses.
Rare is the customer that repeatedly returns for bad service, especially when competing businesses are within arms reach. After all, why would they return when there are businesses who will give them what they want with the appropriate service?
An article by providesupport.com states that after receiving bad service, 56% of individuals will never use a company again and 25% of people will actually recommend their social circle to not use the business.
That is a whopping 1 out 4 individuals, all over poor customer service!
Fortunately, the seller had quickly identified the cause and made a genuine effort to engage his customer on their terms and provided additional value to make up for his shortcomings.
The result is not only a happy customer, but a group of people that had seen firsthand of his excellent service. The net result is an increased likelihood of a returning customer and would-be customers as well.
Third and most importantly, a business needs to think of the final question.
You can also read: 9 tips to be a successful entrepreneur!
3. What additional values are you providing to your customers in addition to the product offered?
While we certainly don’t expect every business to adopt the same business model, they must provide additional value to their customers in order to retain them. In this case, the seller offered apologies and a small discount as appropriate to the situation, turning the situation around.
This additional gesture is the additional value provided by a business and it works to great effect. All businesses need to stand out in the crowd and good service coupled with a personal apology certainly does go a long way in providing value to an ordinary plate of noodles.
So what has your business done for your customers lately?
These are things that every business owner must think of when running a business, and like the char koay teow uncle, must be able to provide additional value to their customers in order to run their business successfully!
Be like the char koay teow uncle.
Add value to your business.
As businesses adapt to newer ways of selling and retaining their customers, older and antiquated ways of running a business is no longer applicable. No one can know everything but sometimes, an outside perspective, an older mentor who has been through the entrepreneurial journey is an invaluable source of wisdom and knowledge to tap upon.
KC See, serial entrepreneur of over 34 years, is one such person. Possessing a business acumen unmatched anywhere else, he runs a number of successful businesses across the region. He is most excited to help businesses redefine their business paradigm to meet the new breed of customers.