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Customer Satisfaction Is Not Enough
by Roxanne Emmerich, CMC, CSP

Your customers may think you're fast enough and friendly enough, and that your quality is acceptable. They are satisfied. However, when a competitor offers a better price, the customer is gone.

Many companies focus on customer service, but the focal point is in the wrong place. We need to turn that point from customer satisfaction to customer success. Our job is to help our customers and clients be successful. That's what they really want. Then, when a competitor offers a better price, our customers will say "Sorry. I wouldn't think of leaving the company I'm doing business with now." Satisfaction is certainly a part of success. To be satisfied, customers want us to provide our product or service in a timely manner. They expect us to be empathetic and friendly. They want our product to be high in quality. However, we need to go to the next step.

How can you help your customers and clients be successful? There is no easy answer. The only way to know is to look at your customers individually and ask them how they define success and how you can help them achieve it. It isn't enough to have the right phone skills, correct correspondence, and fast turnaround. How do you begin to define what your customers need to succeed? It's simple. Ask them. They will give you ideas that you will find carry over to other accounts as well. Then, take it one step further. Think outside the box and ask yourself what you would need to be successful if you were the customer.

For a window manufacturer whose customers are the lumber yards, it may be training their customer on how to sell the manufacturer's product thereby increasing the lumber yards' revenues. For a bank, it may be a one-stop person whose position doesn't turn over yearly (imagine that), and who completely understands a customer's financial savings and borrowing needs and makes transactions easy. For a health care organization, it may be educating family members on how to nurture their ailing loved ones back to health.

When I looked at my customers on the speaking side of my business, I realized my role as a speaker was more than just giving a great presentation. The meeting planners wanted me to do a good job so they looked good. The evaluations would come in supporting the meeting planner, saying that he or she did a great job in finding the presenter for the meeting or conference.

I was frustrated because I didn't think that was enough. To make a meeting planner successful, I needed to set my goals higher, well beyond the immediate evaluation. I wanted people still talking about the program a year later, and better yet, still applying the lessons. I felt that most of my competitors let the ball drop by focusing on the immediate evaluation. I went the extra step. I began to explore things to make the session a part of a process as opposed to an event. I began using accelerated learning principles, follow-up systems, and more. Now, the comment we hear most in our office from past clients is, "Gee, they're still talking about you. As they hit challenges, they refer to what they learned." Bingo! That's what I wanted: customer success.

When you focus on customer success, it is hard to shop based on price only. You begin to see the money spent as an investment with substantial returns. The customer doesn't want to risk spending less (or more) someplace else and potentially getting less. It is not the role of the CEO to develop the strategy for customer success. It is the role of everyone within the company. Not only do people need to look at how to help the outside customers succeed, but they also need to look at how they can help their internal customers do their jobs better.

To help our customers succeed, we need to love them. We need to care about them and protect them and nurture them as we would a family member. Love does not mean giving your teenager all the money he asks for and letting him set his own curfew. Nor does love for your customers mean you give away the store. It simply means that you are so wrapped up in helping them succeed that you then receive even more of what you need.

Roxanne Emmerich is the author of Profit-Growth Banking: How to Master 7 Breakthrough Strategies of Top-Performing Banks. She is renowned for her work with helping many of the top-performing banks in the country stay miles ahead of their competitors. Roxanne Emmerich is one of the most applauded business women in the United States. She is listed by Sales and Marketing Management magazine as one of the 12 most requested speakers in the nation for her unparalleled ability to create immediate, profound, and sustainable transformations for her clients.

Copyright Roxanne Emmerich. All Rights Reserved.

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