What is the most important thing for a business in the modern connected world? As business people, the answer would obviously be your employees. Their wellbeing and best interests should always be a major consideration because without them, you would not be able to run a business. They give up most of their waking adult lives for you, the least you can do is make sure that you treat them properly. But after your employees, what is the most important thing? Shareholders. Right. And then? Customers! If your customers are not happy, you will concomitantly not be able to take care of the people who work for you or please the people for whom you work. It is often said that the customers is always right. This is obviously not the case all the time. Customers make mistakes too, but because of their privileged position, you have to pretend that they are right. It will make them happy and therefore more likely to spend money with you again.
There are lots of ways to make your customers want to do business with you. You could lower your prices. That always seems to be a popular option. Or you could offer them discounts whenever they feel that they are not getting what they should. The risk there is that they will soon realise their position and start to take advantage of it. In any case, the fundamentals of business have not changed even though the contemporary landscape has. Whether you are interested in small digital start-ups or you want to work as a software developer for a major corporation, there are some things that you should remember if you want to keep your customers happy:
A piece of advice that is as true in civilian life as it in business comes from a book written before the internet even existed. In his famous 1936 book How To Win Friends and Influence People, Dale Carnegie wrote that ‘a person’s name is to that person the sweetest and most important sound in any language’. That may seem rather hyperbolic, but it terms out to be true. Learning your customers’ names, even if it just for the time that you are speaking with them, makes a big difference. Your name is important too because sharing it suggests that you have a personal investment in what you are doing. If you talk to clients in person, or even over conference calls, you should consider name badges. Besides, it will give that person in the office who can never remember your name no more excuse.
As brilliant as technology can be, there are some aspects of it that can seem rather impersonal. If your customers get on average ten emails a day (which is a conservative estimate for some people) then one more from you is not going to be all that original or interesting. It will just be one of seventy in a single week. To grab your customers’ attention and prove to them that you care, consider sending letters with handwritten notes. It does take time but the loyalty that you could inspire in customers who will soon realise that you really care about them is worth every second.