Our customers want and need things.  Clothes, food, video production, accountancy services, plumbing done.   Mostly they don’t want to think about how they fulfil these needs, they want an easy life. So they look around and hopefully they find your business to provide them with what they want.  They become your customer.

In theory this is the happy-ever-after end to the story. But as we have all experienced as consumers, quite frequently this is not the end of the story.  It is the beginning of an unhappy one.

Some industries seem incapable of getting it right.  Telephone companies spring to mind.  Something always goes wrong and when it does the hassle of sorting it out can be incredible. This is important because the impact on businesses that get it wrong is huge.  Consider the following statistics taken from the Huffington Post and Help Scout:
  • 66% of consumers who switched brands did so because of poor service
  • Only 1 out of 26 unhappy customers complain.
  • 91% of those who do not complain simply leave
  • Unhappy customers tell twice as many people about your business than happy ones
  • 78% of consumers have pulled out of a sale due to poor service
  • Loyal customers are worth 10 x as much on average as new ones
  • Your probability of selling to a new prospect is 5 – 20%
  • Your probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 – 70%
  • It takes 12 positive experiences to make up for a negative one
  • It is 6-7 times more expensive to get a new customer than keep a current one
  • 80% of companies say they deliver ‘superior ‘ customer service but only 8% of people agree
In turn these statistics then beg the question of ‘What makes a happy customer?’.

There are many facets to customer satisfaction – the engagement process, the product,  personalised responses, speed of response, competency.  A whole approach to business design has grown up called Customer Experience Management which goes deep into all aspects of business.

However again and again surveys show that underlying it all is the same desire from customers for an easy life.  They want to expend the minimum effort in getting what they have paid for.  People will put up with the odd problem, but not too many.  If there is a problem they want solutions quickly and without effort.

The good news is that the rewards for getting it right are in equal proportion to the damage inflicted by failing at it.  People will pay more for good service.  People are generally very unwilling to move supplier if they are experiencing good service.  And therefore we assert that focusing on making life easy for your customers is a very powerful strategy in business.

Thankfully small businesses are much better placed to succeed in this than big business.   That is not to say it is effortless because we have to understand what are the aspects of our business that don’t work for our customers.  Being immersed in what it takes to deliver or product or service it can be hard to experience it from our customer’s perspective.  Customer feedback is vital.  Interviewing our customers periodically is highly recommended to provide insights.  Looking for best practice elsewhere can be invaluable.

At Crunchers we are well aware of the challenge.  Our service depends on us getting financial information from our clients that is often quite complex and inextricably bound up in the unpleasant business of paying tax.  Doing this in a way that is painless is not easy.  More and more we are realising the importance to our success of the way we do this and looking for ways to improve.  It is why we think our CustomerSure feedback is vitally important and why from Oct we are going to be looking to work with willing clients to help us make the experience the best it can be.