Your approach to customer service should be part of your business plan, says Steve Mugglestone

12th April 2018

When was the last time you experienced fantastic customer service? Do you remember how receiving great customer service made you feel? If you don’t, it may be fair to say it doesn’t happen enough. But surely this shouldn’t be the norm? After all customers are the lifeblood of business. 

 

Part of our role at HB&O is to support our clients in growing their businesses. When it comes to developing their business plan, alongside product/service development, financial considerations and marketing ideas, we encourage our clients to think about the ethos that will underpin their business - how will they attract and retain customers in the long term?

 

The power of loyalty

 

It’s no secret that positive customer service experience not only helps retain clients, but encourages referrals and growth. We have seen good businesses become fantastic businesses by commanding loyalty from their customers, whether that’s through well positioned special offers and rewards, or simply providing consistently high quality, reliable services.

 

Customer loyalty can benefit your business in many ways:


It makes your business unique

 

If your business operates within a crowded marketplace, great customer service can be a powerful way to differentiate you from the competition. 


For example, at HB&O, we made a conscious decision to provide unlimited telephone support for clients. Unlike some of our competitors, we ensure that every client, regardless of size, has a named director leading their account. This means clients always have someone to call for expert advice should they need it, and we maintain a stronger understanding of each client’s needs as their business develops.


Knowledge is power

 

If your customers stay with you for a long time you can build very strong relationships with them. You can learn: 

 

  • What they’re interested in
  • What they value
  • What they think of your current service and how you could improve on it
  • What you can do to help them solve problems they are facing

 

With our unique insight into the various challenges faced by our clients, we have been able to draw on our own network to provide useful seminars and articles designed to help prepare clients for complex legislative changes such as GDPR. On a very practical basis, we’ve also helped them make the most of their technology with our popular ‘apple in an hour’ events.


These may not be your average events for an accountancy firm, but they provide an opportunity for us to add value and stand out from the crowd.  In addition, learning from our customers helps us identify opportunities to develop new services.

 

Your customer as your advocate

 

If you provide consistently good customer service over a period of time, it’s highly likely your customers will be inclined to recommend you. 


I’m sure you’re aware of how powerful a recommendation can be. After all, aren’t you more inclined to try a brand if someone has personally recommended it? Especially if it’s unknown to you. Over the past decade research has been indicating the most credible form of advertising comes directly from people we know and trust.

 

If you aren’t already aware, it’s worth finding out what the conversion rate of new customers who’ve been recommended is, against other forms of advertising or marketing.

 

It can make you more profitable

 

If you operate in a market where your product or service is relatively generic, keen pricing may be a strategy you use to win or retain customers. A focus on providing high levels of customer service may contribute towards your ability to sit at the higher end of the pricing scale. 


In addition, retaining customers and having a good reputation can help reduce costs associating with promoting your business. As I’ve already said; a happy customer is valuable. They not only stay with you, but they also recommend your services to others.


So whilst you’re busy reviewing your business plan, or developing a new one, take time to consider how providing great customer service could strengthen your offering.