No customer, no business – 6 ways to putting your customer first

17 Feb 2022
BY Dave Salisbury

No customer, no business – 6 ways to putting your customer first

I’ve been CEO of Zicam Integrated Security Limited for 25 years, and in that time I’m proud that myself and my team have never wavered when it comes to delivering excellence customer service. I’ve been around for a while and learnt a few things, so if you’re just starting out in business the one piece advice I would give you is to always put your customer first – here are my 6 top tips on how to do that.

1.      You’re a human not an automated menu

How annoying is it when you phone up a new company for advice about a purchase you’re thinking of making (that is, spending your hard-earned money with them) and all you get is a series of questions delivered by a poor actor in charge of the world’s worst script? It’s massively annoying because all you want to do is have a conversation with a human about something you need more information about. We mustn’t underestimate the power of connection when it comes to customer service. We get value from interaction and customers will always appreciate the conversation, not the questions.

2.      Is the customer always right?

Not always, no. And it’s ok to tell them that (politely). When you engage a company for their products or services you do so because you believe them to be the right people for the job. The experts if you like. They might think that what they’re requesting from you is what they need based on a conversation with a friend or some internet research, but this where you can stand out – you can either sell them what they want, or you can go the extra mile and say: “actually, from what you’ve told me, I believe you’ll be better with…” and have a conversation about what they need instead.

3.      Avoid interpretation, we don’t all speak the same language

Every industry has its own jargon and I would advise you never to use it unless you’re talking to someone else within the same industry! When you start talking to a potential customer in industry-specific language there’s a huge risk you’ll lose them before your wonderful long-term relationship has even begun. There’ll either get bored and tune out, or let you ramble because they don’t have the confidence to say they don’t understand. From my perspective it’s so much better to say “I think your security system needs this CCTV camera because you’ll benefit from the high-definition, ultra-clear images you’ll get across your entire property 24/7” than tell them the product name, product code, and technical specifications. If they want that information, they’ll ask for it.


4.     Personalised not generalised

Bespoke, bespoke, bespoke! How much better do we feel when we know we’re getting something that’s been specifically designed for us, with our requirements at its centre, knowing that someone has paid attention to our precise needs? You can sell someone a product or service that’s off-the-shelf, but it’s that attention to detail you need to show when you’re creating something bespoke that will keep your customers coming back. They’ll also be happy to recommend you for you excellent customer service and impeccable expert knowledge.

5.      Integrity is integral

Integrity is what we live and die by at Zicam and what keeps our customers with us over decades. Each member of our team, whether they’re in the office or out on site, sticks to strong moral principles and company values. Customers return to companies they trust, so my biggest piece of advice is to be honest. Never say you can do something to win a project knowing that you actually can’t or would struggle to deliver. If you make a mistake, or something doesn’t go quite right, make it known to your customer and correct it as soon as possible. Honesty and integrity will win you customers.

6.      Excellence, always

As a customer, when you receive exceptional service, wherever it may be, it will stick in your mind for years. As a company, you need to deliver excellence, always. The end-to-end process that a customer goes through with your company needs to be seamless and enjoyable from first contact to completion. It costs absolutely nothing to treat people well, be polite and honest, and deliver exactly what you’ve agreed you will. It’s an old adage, but it’s still around for a reason: treat others the way you want to be treated. It’s a thread that should run throughout any business.

There you have it. They’re not tips that are difficult to understand, but it does require commitment to making sure that every person in your business is delivering customer satisfaction.

Milan Mazić, CEO, Zicam Integrated Limited.

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