Warren Buffet said, “It can take 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.”
I had the opportunity to see Joseph Bradley (really, really smart guy) speak at BPCA in April, and something he shared stuck with me.
“67% of customers leave their provider because of a negative experience but only 1 out of 26 customers will formally lodge a complaint.”
This tells me that companies that are struggling to keep their existing customer base intact might not know what the problem is. And not knowing why customers are abandoning your office technology business for the competition could be the result of many different variables:
- Operating with integrity – Has your office equipment business developed standards and expectations around how employees treat customers? Is there a bar that your company is trying to reach with customer satisfaction?
- Selecting the right vendors when outsourcing – Are the business partners that you’ve chosen to align your company with operating with integrity?
- Customer base protection – Is your customer base made up of recurring contracted revenue? If so, what are the terms of the agreement and is the agreement designed to protect both you, as the provider, and your customers?
- Getting customer feedback – Does your office technology business have a way to measure customer satisfaction? Are you getting feedback about your performance, the things that you do well, and things that could be improved?
Operating with Integrity
Integrity is important because you want your customers and your employees to know that you are committed to their long term success. Publishing things like your Mission, Vision and Principles will not only share your values with your office technology prospects and customers, it will also give your employees a bar to exceed with every customer interaction.
Selecting the Right Vendors when Outsourcing
The right vendors are important because in today’s changing business landscape, many companies can’t do it all alone. Having the right partners in place ensures that the integrity that you expect from your employees extends through the partnerships you want to build. The last thing you want to do is trust another company to deliver a great customer experience only to be let down because they don’t operate with the same expectations of integrity.
Protecting your Customer Base
Customer base protection is more important than ever. Think about how competitive the landscape is in the office technology industry. Technology has crept into every industry and companies are competing over every opportunity. If your customer base is under attack, thinking about ways to protect it from competition has to be a basic value. Gaining agreement on contractually recurring revenue is the only way to maintain your customer base. Just ask my cable company--or for you millenials out there that have already cancelled cable, think about your cell phone plan.
Pursuing Feedback from your Customers
Customer feedback can be obtained in many different ways. Sending out surveys, doing in person visits and asking a variety of questions to gain feedback on how your company performs are all wonderful ways to understand more about why customers leave you and why they choose to stay. Having a third party execute anonymously helps you to obtain unbiased feedback.
As an Office Technology Provider, or any type of business for that matter, it's important to step back and take an honest look at your approach to each of these areas. You’ll be surprised at what you’ll uncover and you’ll begin to identify points of friction. You may not like everything you find, but you must define a starting line to measure improvements against. They may seem trivial at first glance, but how you operate in these four areas will determine how successful you’ll be at building a solid foundation for your customer relationships, enabling you to earn their loyalty, and their business, again and again.
Interested in Learning How Your Relationship with Your Finance Company Can Help You Retain Customers?
Learn more about integrity, as well as retaining and protecting your customer base, by checking out these entries:
Is Integrity a Dying Virtue? 7 Ways to Keep Integrity Alive in Your Office Equipment Dealership
7 Ways to Protect Your Most Prized Asset
This Should Keep You Up At Night: Am I Building Enterprise Value Through Bundling
7 Questions to Ask Before Selecting a Finance Company
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