customer attention

13 Customer Service Facts

By Michael A. Aun, Speaker and Founder, Aun Insurance Agency

Over the years, our firm has had extensive dealings with all aspects of industry. Two big questions always surface when industry huddles to make decisions on marketing their products.

First, why do people do business with a particular firm? In today’s highly competitive industrial environment, customers have literally dozens of choices in most cases. Why choose you?

The second question that arises is why do they keep coming back? In the course of our research to try to answer these questions, we uncovered at least 13 customer service facts.

First, our research shows that you can’t motivate anyone. People have to be motivated on their own, or they won’t do what you wish them to do. Motivation is an internal thing, not an external thing. We concluded that rarely could a particular company in a particular industry truly motivate anyone to do business with them.

The second thing our research tells us is that all people are motivated. Hold it… one minute you say people can’t be motivated and then you say all people are motivated. Which is it? People are motivated – many times negatively, but nonetheless, they are motivated.

The third thing we’ve learned about the business of motivating people to buy from you is that they will do business with you for their reasons not yours.
To that end, our research indicates a number of key ‘Customer Service Facts’ about why clients buy and why they do or don’t remain loyal to the people with whom they initially do business. Here are the thirteen facts.

Fact #1
Dissatisfied customers tell an average of ten other people about their bad experience. Twelve percent tell up to twenty people.
In very simple terms, bad news spreads rather quickly. Don’t think for a moment that your poor performance in servicing your client goes unnoticed. Not only does it go noticed, but you also pay a very dear price for that kind of publicity.

Fact #2
Satisfied customers will tell an average of five people about their positive experience. Conversely, the good news, unfortunately, doesn’t spread so quickly. To the contrary, the bad news moves twice as quickly as the good. While customers do appreciate good service, they either don’t reward it quite as soon or they don’t reward it at all.

In most cases, customers have come to expect good service as ‘part of the deal’. While they do expect it, rarely do they get it. The ‘bum rap’ here is that the bad apples are causing problems for the whole bushel.

Fact #3
It costs five times more money to attract a new customer than to keep an existing one. Before you go out investing hundreds or even thousands of dollars chasing after new clients, think about the acres of diamonds in your own backyard.

The people that you’ve done business with previously thought enough of you at some point to buy from you. Why not go back and re-cultivate that relationship? It will cost you one-fifth of the cost of finding a new client.

Fact #4
If 20 customers are dissatisfied with your service, 19 won’t bother to tell you. 14 of the 20 will simply take their business elsewhere.

Most customers just don’t want the hassle of having to straighten a problem out. They know that, in many situations, it’s their word against the word of the company. Who needs the aggravation? They simply take their business somewhere else.

Unfortunately for the salesperson, they will end up losing the business and may not even know the reason why. That’s why it’s critical to do follow up surveys to check on your performance. Ask questions like:

  • Were you satisfied with our service?
  • If not, what can we do to improve?
  • Had you been the sales/service person, what would you have done differently in this transaction?
  • Why did you choose to do business with us?
  • Is there any other way we can be of service to you?

Many will say, “By asking these questions, you are just opening yourself up for criticism”. Perhaps you are, but that is the intent of the questions… to find out what’s going wrong.

Always remember to separate the criticism of the performer and the performance. When the performance is under attack, there’s room for growth. When one attacks the performer, many times that criticism is ‘value judging’ in nature. We should listen to those remarks, but not support them. Usually they are not constructive in nature.

Fact #5
Up to 90% of dissatisfied customers will not buy from you again, and they won’t bother to tell you why.

Statistically speaking, you would be lucky if 10% of your unhappy customers would come back and do business with you again. Most customers become dissatisfied when the salesperson violates their trust.

Trust, in any relationship, once violated, negates the relationship. It takes a mighty forgiving customer to let you stick him or her twice. Honesty in any relationship is not conditional. Lincoln said you are either unconditionally honest or you are not honest at all.

Fact #6
96% of dissatisfied customers do not complain of poor service. They figure, “What’s the use? Nobody’s listening!” Maybe they’re not used to getting service after the sale. Many feel they are victims of a crime. The sales person has their commission. Now he or she will simply ignore the pleas of the client.

As a sales or service person, your responsibility is to return calls the same day when a complaint comes in.

So when a sale is made, make it clear to the client that you welcome their input and that you would be disappointed if a problem exists that you were unaware of. This permits the client to let you know that they are experiencing a problem.

Fact #7
In many service industries (yours included), quality of service is one of the few variables that can distinguish a business from its competition.

In many cases, there’s not a nickel’s worth of difference between the vast majority of products and services that you and your competition offer.

The only appreciable difference is in the service rendered by the sales and service people. For 99.9% of your clients, the SALES AND SERVICE PEOPLE are the company. Most of the time, they are the only people with whom the client will ever be in contact.

Fact #8
The first 30 seconds of a call or meeting sets the tone for the remainder of the contact. The last 30 seconds are critical to establishing a lasting rapport.

You only get one opportunity to make a first impression… don’t screw it up! If you want to be accepted as a professional, you must look and act the part. If you look and act shabby, you will be perceived as shabby. If you plant peas you get peas, not corn. People will expect of you what you expect of yourself. What you’ve invested in yourself.

Fact #9
Providing high-quality service can save your business money. The same skills that lead to increased customer satisfaction also lead to increased employee productivity. You can kill two birds with one stone. The same things that make customers happy make your employees happy.

Have your employees put a big smile on their faces. People want to do business with winners. They want to do business with happy people. People don’t smile because they’re happy, they’re happy because they smile.

Fact #10
Customers are willing to pay more to receive better service. You remember ‘Marketing 101’. What do you get when you have a high demand for something and an extremely low supply? The price goes up, of course. The price (in case of service) is the loyalty the client has to you and your firm. If you provide good service, they pay you loyalty.

Loyalty means they will do business with you again. And remember, it only costs one-fifth as much to do business with an existing customer as it does to find a new one.

Fact #11
95% of dissatisfied customers will become loyal customers again if their complaints are handled well and quickly.

Let’s face it; people don’t want to admit they made a mistake initially when they decided to do business with you.

80% of the decision to purchase is generally made on emotion. Only 20% is made on logic. But they use logic to justify their reason to do business with you.

They want to say to themselves that their decision was a right one, a logical one. They are more willing to forgive, if for no other reason than to ratify their initial decision to do business with you.

Fact #12
A good sale is GOOD SERVICE.

Part of every sale should be an extensive overview of the service you intend to render as part of the sale.

You should promise and do a periodic review of the client’s situation. You should deliver periodic reports on the progress of the contract. You should stay in touch with periodic ‘non-sales’ visits designed to build goodwill with the customer.

In telling the client this in advance, you prepare them for your eventual follow up contact. But you must follow up. Promise them a lot, but deliver a little more!

Fact #13
Good service leads to increased sales.

People love to talk about rare experiences, like actually receiving good service from their sales representative. Work hard to earn their respect and they will repay you royally by telling their friends and associates.

It starts with good customer service. After all, our customers are the lifeblood of our business.

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10 Myths about Multicultural Customers

By Michael Soon Lee, President, EthnoConnect

Are multicultural customers driving you crazy? Do you want to know why they constantly negotiate EVERYTHING? Do you want to learn how to increase your sales to culturally diverse buyers? Read 10 Myths about Multicultural Customers and be mystified no more.

Over one-third of all Americans today are minorities plus there are over a million people from overseas immigrating every year. The numbers of people from diverse cultures are growing so rapidly that the US Census Bureau expects this group to be nearly half of the population by 2038. This is a huge market for retailers and business-to-business sellers all across the country – if you know how to meet the unique needs of Asians, Hispanics, African Americans, Middle Easterners and others.

 

  1. People from Other Cultures Only Want to Buy from Someone from Their Own Culture
    Nothing could be further from the truth unless there is a language barrier. Most of the people who complain about having trouble with multicultural customers are European American salespeople. They just need to understand how to meet the wants and needs of people from other cultures. In fact, many cultural groups would prefer to work with a salesperson from outside their own culture. Asians, for example, are very private about their financial affairs and many are afraid that if they work with an Asian salesperson they might disclose their businesses’ income, debts, and clients to others in their community.
  2. Multicultural People Have Superstitions and Beliefs That Are Totally Incomprehensible to Americans
    Remember that people in the United States have beliefs that often baffle outsiders such as the fact that black cats, walking under ladders and the number thirteen are unlucky. Most other cultures have their own beliefs that are just different, but can affect a business transaction. Many cultural beliefs happen to directly affect the purchase of goods and services such as how items are packaged, colors that goods are wrapped in and how items are priced. For instance, many Asians believe that the number four is unlucky because when pronounced in Japanese or Chinese it sounds very similar to those cultures’ word for ‘death.’ Items packaged in groups of four can symbolize bad luck for those people who believe in numerology. Notice, for instance, that if you buy a tea set it is usually packaged with five cups, not four, for this reason.On the other hand, the number three can be bad luck for many Filipinos and Southeast Asians. You never want to package or even photograph them in groups of three since bad luck is believed to come to the person in the middle.

    Just as there are very few hospitals or hotels with a thirteenth floor in America the same buildings in Asia lack a fourth floor. You can see that this belief is similar in both countries just the numbers are different.

  3. Some People from Outside the US Are Unethical Because They Insist on Renegotiating a Purchase Contract after It Has Been Signed
    While it’s true that people from other cultures often try to renegotiate a purchase contract after it has been signed it has nothing to do with ethics. America is a ‘low context’ country where everything is spelled out between people either verbally or in a detailed, written contract. Other countries are ‘high context’ where much more information is derived from the context of the communication and less is spelled out.In high-context countries it is understood that contracts only reflect the agreement between the parties at the beginning of a relationship, which can change as they get to know each other. As a result, the parties are obligated to help each other ‘adjust’ the contract to their needs until it is completed.

    Keep this in mind when working with customers from high-context countries such as Mexico, China, Japan and the Middle East. You may wish to save something for the end of the transaction as things adjust. If you give your ‘bottom line price’ too early it is sure to make things difficult during your relationship.

  4. It’s Impossible to Get Personal Financial Information from Multicultural People Because They’re So Secretive
    This is one of those myths that is actually true. Many people who are new to this country are extremely private about their personal and business finances. Remember that they are unfamiliar with the banking and legal system in America and do not know whom to trust.In addition, merely asking a question as innocent as, “How much do you have for a down payment” on a large purchase can actually endanger the lives of your customers. Why is that? Many new immigrants do not believe in banks and keep much of their money hidden in the form of cash in their homes.

    Have you ever heard of ‘home invasion robberies’ where the occupants are threatened until they reveal the whereabouts of their valuables? These kinds of crimes are commonly committed against Asians or Hispanics, not because they have nicer furniture or stereos than everyone else, but because that’s where the money is often hidden. The author personally knows of one Hispanic client who lost $75,000 in cash to a home robbery.

    The easiest way to find out how much a new immigrant client has for a down payment is to give them a ‘menu’ of choices. Show them the required investment and resulting monthly payments for ten percent down, twenty percent down, etc. The client may also be interested in a ‘quick qualifier’ or ‘no document’ loan so be sure to explain the requirements for these as well. Usually, the loan that the client expresses the most interest in is the one they have the down payment for.

    Also, don’t forget to remind your customer that they can also pay cash for major purchases. Many cultures believe it is a sin to owe others money and many not believe in borrowing, even for very large purchases. The author has had customers show-up with as much $750,000 in cash for a home purchase!

  5. People from Outside This Country Are Unreasonable When It Comes to Negotiating
    Remember, there are two types of countries in the world – negotiating and non-negotiating. The United States is a non-negotiating country where we generally pay the price asked by vendors. In most other countries around the world, people haggle on everything from groceries to clothing to large business contracts. To expect someone from one of these places not to bargain is tantamount to asking them not to breathe.Experienced negotiators know that when they first make an offer on an item it is the lowest they will ever be able to go. They can only go in one direction from there – up. This is why they may start embarrassingly low with their initial offer even if they might be willing to pay full price.

    Many retailers and service providers do not negotiate the price of their goods and services. In this case you can simply explain the situation this way, “We have sold all of our items (or services) to other buyers (or clients) for this price. To save face with them we must sell this one to you (or provide the same service) for the same price.” People from other cultures can usually relate to the need to ‘save face’ and will not ask another person to lose face with others.

    Recognize that this will not stop future negotiations on other issues. Veteran hagglers are aware that they have the most bargaining power just before the transaction closes or the item is delivered. This is when they will usually ask for one extra concession to show their skill. Smart vendors will build an incentive into the deal so they can set something aside for this time otherwise it will likely come out of their own pockets. For instance, if you offer free shipping above a certain purchase volume it’s best not to mention it at the beginning. At delivery it can be thrown in to ‘sweeten the deal’as long as there is no more negotiating.

  6. People from Other Cultures Are Just Too Much Trouble to Bother with
    The author constantly hears this statement from retailers, service providers and their salespeople throughout the country. Too bad for them because if you know how to meet the special needs of multicultural customers they can be just as loyal and enjoyable to work with as anyone else. In addition, people from other cultures are very good about referring others if you serve them with sensitivity and patience.An added bonus when working with people from outside the United States is the opportunity to learn about other cultures. Just think of it. You can take a round-the-world trip without getting seasick or losing one piece of luggage!
  7. People Should Do As Americans do When They’re in This Country
    Did you ever wonder why we are called the ‘Ugly Americans’ when we travel outside our borders? We will fly to Germany, France or China and expect the people there to accommodate us in terms of providing the food and other amenities we are familiar with. We commonly expect to be served pizza in Asia and to speak English in France.Just as it’s difficult for us Americans to leave our 200-year-old culture at the gate when we travel abroad it’s even harder for those coming here with cultures that are thousands of years old to do as we do here. While they do try to assimilate it is hard for them.

    Also, if we want a little piece of business from the fastest-growing segment of the retail market it is we who will have to adjust – a little. Take the time to learn about other cultures, languages and foods.

  8. It Would be Too Much Trouble to Customize My Presentation and Products to People from Other Cultures
    Actually, making your business attractive to people from other cultures is quite easy. First, start with your brochures. Print them in the major languages of the customers who frequent your store or office. Be sure to get help with the translation because many concepts and words in English do not convert easily to other languages. Also be sure to print in the correct language. For example, while Chinese and Japanese may appear similar to the untrained eye, they are very different.You may want to consider hiring some salespeople who speak the language of your major group of multicultural customers. However, if they find you sensitive and patient with people who have language challenges your customers will usually find someone who can interpret. Excellent customer service is a universal language as is friendliness and a willingness to learn about other people’s culture.
  9. We Should Treat Everyone Equally, Regardless of Culture
    Yes, it’s true that we should treat every customer fairly, but this does not necessarily mean equally. For instance, if you meet a buyer who is blind would you simply hand her a brochure to ‘read’? This is equal, but is it fair? Hardly.Similarly by taking into account the unique needs of every customer and adjust to those needs aren’t we serving them better? This would be equally true for being culturally sensitive.
  10. People Don’t Want to Talk about Their Culture – They Just Want to be Treated like Everyone Else
    This is probably the biggest myth when dealing with people from other cultures. We know we are different and unless something about culture is mentioned early in your relationship with a multicultural client it will always stand as a barrier to building true rapport.Once you take a sincere interest in your customers’ cultural background they are usually more than happy to tell you about their language, food and even beliefs. Get into the habit of asking every customer, “Where do your ancestors come from?” Notice, this can get the conversation started with someone from Ireland just as easily as Thailand.

    Try asking customers how to say “hello” or even your name in their native tongue. You may be slightly embarrassed as you struggle with their language, but they’ll love you for it because now you know how they feel trying to speak English.

If you want to be truly successful with people from other cultures you must make this agreement with each and every one of them. “I will teach you about American customs and practices as it relates to my business. In exchange, I want you to teach me about your cultural background.” In this way, you develop a mutually beneficial relationship, which will hopefully last a lifetime.