Customer relationships help build loyalty, expert saysWritten by Duane Ramsey | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Cultivating loyal customer relationships with clients and employees is more important than ever, Cindy Solomon told the audience at KeyBank’s 2010 Key4Women Forum on May 6 at the Toledo Club.
“Satisfaction is no longer enough to create loyalty. Every single interaction is the moment of truth so it’s important to develop lasting relationships by wooing people to your side,” said Solomon, a national consultant, executive coach, speaker and author based in San Francisco.
The new normal is that everything has changed and we have to change with it because it’s never going back to what it was, Solomon said. She urged women “to put on your customer hat and think of yourself as a customer for your business.”
Solomon said research shows 80 percent of customers who leave a company or service were actually satisfied with it when they left.
“Focus on customers you already have since loyalty gives you a higher return,” she said, citing that a 5 percent increase in customer loyalty can create an 80 to 90 percent increase in long-term profitability.
“Your competition is the company that best served your customer last. That’s the difference between customer satisfaction and loyalty.”
Technology has changed everything as the Internet opened up a whole new way of communicating instantly. Solomon urged women to get online on Facebook, Twitter or Yelp and signup for Google search alerts to find out what people are saying about you and your business.
She said 70 percent of women business owners don’t have a website and 65 percent don’t have a database. “Find and hire someone who can make technology work for you.”
“Technology is not always the answer. You need to integrate the two to find the right mix to create a true dialogue with your customers. It’s all about building the relationship.”
Talk to the right people. Don’t ignore your advocates who comprise 2 percent of your customers. Get rid of the “serial killers,” another 2 percent who will never be satisfied or loyal but cost 40 percent of your time. Remember the 96 percent in the middle “who are your bread and butter,” Solomon said.
“Involve everyone in your business in the process. CEOs of every company should work the front lines at least once a month.
“Hire and retain your best people and start with a three-month contract.” Solomon suggests firing your “C” players because you spend too much time with them and risk losing your top “A” players. Don’t ignore the “B” Players as they are the backbone of your business.
“Focus on priorities, not the noise (serial killer customers and “C” players). Do only what you need to do yourself.” Solomon said 79 percent of women who fail in business because of priorities.
“Have the courage to tweak what you’re doing or think about doing things a little differently. Don’t be afraid to fail. It’s what entrepreneurs do. We fall down, laugh about it, get back up and try again,” she said.
Solomon is serving as the keynote speaker at 14 events across the country for KeyBank, according to Jim Hoffman, president of the bank’s NW Ohio region. The forums are designed to educate and empower women in business through the insight of national speakers like Solomon.
“Her message was powerful,” said Tammy Claus, human resources director for local accounting firm Gilmore, Jasion & Mahler in Maumee. “Everyone should appreciate how important it is to build relationships with their clients.”
Solomon is the author of a book titled, “The Rules of Woo: An Entrepreneur’s Guide to Capturing the Hearts & Minds of Today’s Customers.” A special edition of the book was presented to attendees at the Key4Women events, compliments of KeyBank.
Dianne Brunner, president of Davis College in Toledo, was recognized with an award for her service on the Key4Women national advisory board, which met May 4-5 in Cleveland.
“KeyBank really cares about women,” said Brunner about the program.
“KeyBank wants to help you and your business,” Hoffman told the audience.
He reported KeyBank was rated tops in customer service among banks nationally in research conducted by the American Customer Satisfaction Index and NW Ohio was the top rated district for the bank.