Those who've worked in retail have quite the accentuated opinion regarding customers, to the extent of the creation of meme pages in support of employees, including the most popular one about the ultimate boss of all mean clientele... the Karen. This great misconception of customers being rude and entitled stems from various popular scenarios: the customer is in a bad mood, they received mediocre services/products, or the customer service agent failed to fulfill their duties.
No matter the attitude, though, the serious attention companies invest in satisfying their regular users remains a top priority and key element to their success. Many experts believe customers are a great asset to businesses as most of them provide loyalty (recurrent purchases), word of mouth (new users), and credibility (accurate reviews of the product/service.) So attaining a relationship based on trust between company and customer is an important task to continuously work on.
For Spotii founders, CEO Anuscha Ahmed Iqbal and COO/CFO Ziyaad Omer Ahmed, businesses ought to "stand by what [they] say" and not treat customers as if they know better. "The best way to build trust is to be honest with yourself on what you can deliver and make sure you stick to your promise to your consumers. If you advertise one thing and do another – that's the easiest way to lose trust," the shop now, pay later payments platform team advised.
Other professionals tend to agree with the Spotii team, as honesty regarding the company's potential can clear the way for unwrinkled communication and expectations.
"Be honest with your customers regarding the current capabilities of your product (ie, manage expectations); the timing of customer support can be as (or more) important as the customer service solution itself," told us Patrick Rogers, CEO and Co-founder of Clara, a legal operating system that digitizes and automates startup legal expertise. "[It] should be impossible for customers to misinterpret your team's written communication – write in clear short sentences and avoid jargon," he emphasized.
As COVID-19 hit the world economically and mentally in 2020, our way of life shifted unexpectedly, so did our way of making business and spending money. Several sectors, including those that depend on human contact, were brought to a sudden halt. People were unbothered with unnecessary expenses, which consequently led to hefty financial losses for big and small organizations.
For ventures like Dubai-based Mr Usta, which matches users with handymen (aka Ustas), the first half of 2020 signaled a change in how people perceived outsiders coming into their homes for repairs. Like every other business, temperature monitoring, gloves and face masks, and sanitization were the salient points of gaining back the trust of customers.
Ibrahim Colak, the Founder and CEO of Mr Usta, is a massive fan of keeping the client satisfied and in the know, and so it was crucial to communicate the newly implemented precautionary measures with them in all transparency. Soon after, work picked up again and new deep cleaning and disinfection services were created.
"We are a technology company, but it doesn't stop us [from having] a close human relationship with our customers. Because mainly customers reach us when they have problems and they want us to solve these problems. When they reach us, customers are already in a stressed situation and they want a real person to understand their problem and solve it," Mr. Colak explained.
His take on customer service is quite passionate; he wants users to know that even if the services are obtained through a digital platform, humans are the ones behind the operations.
"Our region appreciates the human touch more than other regions. And this promise also brings customer loyalty which is very good for our retention. The companies that don't give a good customer service and don't show customers high level of support, will lose trust of customers to their brand, services or products," he continued.
Customer retention is a recurrent stop for business owners, and for a good reason.
For Clara CEO Mr. Rogers, "existing customers are your most valuable source of referrals (and this word of mouth business doesn't cost you anything!). Actively cultivate goodwill with your customers and do what you can to make them raving fans of your product."
Having a good relationship with your client can go a long way, especially when your goal is repeat business as many believe it's the "key to long term success."
"Take the time to build trust with your customers, establish relationships that are enduring, and ensure the customer sees the outcome as a successful decision. In doing so, you better position yourself for referrals, repeat business, and increased scale – three objectives every startup should be looking for," told us John Hensel, Co-founder & COO of Securrency, Inc, a blockchain-based financial services markets infrastructure company.
Other aspects pertaining to a business relationship that's based on trust, especially for companies like Securrency that deal with large financial institutions that have billions and trillions of dollars on the line, are the pace at which business should go and the changes that might surface along the way.
"It's not uncommon to have routine meetings ahead of contract award, but too often the sales team's attention can shift to the 'next opportunity' prematurely. Always be mindful that requirements and expectations will continue to shift even after contract award," Mr. Hensel explained. "There is a great deal of discovery that will continue to manifest long after the ink is dry on the contract. When this happens, and trust me it does, be cognizant of the fact these discoveries, for the most part, are shared by both sides. The lessons learned that translate to added cost should be shared. If the burden is imbalanced, the potential for follow-on customer experiences will likely be low," he continued.
Trust, transparency, and continuous communication with customers will create an equal balance that's beneficial for both parties, and that's what grows a company in any market.