Dollars and sense: Customer satisfaction equals success

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 4, 2008

By JENNIFER TRAMMELL / Guest Columnist

An unhappy customer will bad-mouth you to everyone they know.

All businesses, regardless of size, must have a customer first philosophy to survive and grow. This philosophy must be in place to ensure that you’re not so focused on your own internal work processes that you never can be bothered to look at things from your customers’ point of view.

It’s a lot easier to retain your current customers than to continually acquire new ones. The cheapest way to grow your business is through positive word-of-mouth from satisfied customers.

Put your customer service policy in writing. Every employee should know the philosophy and be ready to live by it. It can be as simple as “the customer is always right” or go into details about what employees can do to ensure a satisfied customer, such as the authority to offer discounts or rebates.

The simplest training technique for you to obtain a customer first attitude is to look in a mirror. What do you expect from businesses? You expect a certain quality.

You want to be treated as an individual, with prompt attention and competence. You want someone to listen to you, so that you can explain in detail what you need. Sometimes just listening is the best thing you can do for a customer – it makes them feel important. Customers who feel important will always come back to your business.

Remember this technique for every single customer who comes into your business every single day. Don’t just go the easy route and give a customer a pat answer. Listen to the customer, understand and then come up with a solution.

Businesses should incorporate a customer first attitude into their process improvement planning. Schedule it at regular intervals (annually, every month, whatever might be appropriate for your business).

Listen especially to front-line employees who regularly deal with a variety of your customers. They can provide valuable incite into what needs to be included in putting the customer first every day.

Good customer service leads to customer loyalty. Putting the customer first may sound clich/ but it works for all of us.

Jennifer Trammell is the executive director of the Greater Shelby Chamber of Commerce. She can be reached at 663-4542, or by e-mail at