Without them you wouldn’t be in business, but how good are your strategies for finding, creating and caring for your customers?

We’d all like to think we all rate A+ in how we attract and handle our clientele, but the truth is many a business could do a bit better or could be missing a link in the vital chain. So here’s a quick back to basics guide on customer creation and care.

Know your customer

“The purpose of business is to create and keep a customer.” ― Peter F. Drucker

Every business has an ideal customer. This is the customer with the right mindset, right ethos and the right need for your services or goods. You need to identify and know this person intimately – who they are, where they find information, and what drives them to make a purchase decision. And this person may change throughout the life of a business.

Only when you know them, will you know how to find them, market to them and serve them well. So take the time to consider who this person is, assign them a character profile, devise a qualifying statement and allow them a prime place in your business.

Put yourself in your customer’s place

“The golden rule for every business man is this: Put yourself in your customer’s place.” – Orison Swett Marden

Know your customer and you’ll know their habits, location, and the business image you need to portray. These are the essential ingredients that result in efficient marketing, creating a message that will be heard, and then ensuring your services meet a client’s expectation.

When you know your customer and can put yourself in their place you can envisage what they need to know about your business to have them walk through your doors.

Once there, you can further speak their language through the Vision and Mission of your business, the environment you provide, and the level and type of customer service that you offer.

Engage with your customer

“The more you engage with customers the clearer things become and the easier it is to determine what you should be doing.” – John Russell

Customer care doesn’t end at the point of sale. The best service is about establishing a long-term relationship that sees them return again and again. And to create this you need to have two-way communication.

This happens by seeking feedback from your clientele, asking them essential business questions like how they heard about you, how your product or service experience was for them, and how you as a business can improve.

It also involves actively listening to your customers during everyday interactions, and working to rectify any reasonable gaps between their expectation and your service or product.

Meet your customer’s expectations

“Your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.” – Bill Gates

You can have the best marketing, the flashest office and the most highly trained  staff, but if there is a gap between what your customer expects and what you deliver then you need a course of action to resolve any issues.

While instances of discontent may be rare, it’s critical every business has a customer complaints policy to deal with them. This policy not only provides your business with the tools to resolve foreseeable issues but outlines the chain of command and pinpoints who should become involved when something goes awry.

Importantly, a customer complaints policy prepares your business for handling any issues. It allows staff and management to envisage what the consumer expects and have additional means to meet that expectation even if it is not achieved in the first instance.

The final word

Your customer is the reason you are in business, but even the best and most renowned corporations have been guilty of failing to understand their clientele or of losing sight of who they are.

You don’t just need to know your customer when you start your business but understand them throughout the life of it; communicating with them, listening to them and meeting their changing needs. That’s the core of business, and whether it succeeds or fails.