My brother and I are very close in age and grew up almost like twins. But sibling rivalry was always there despite our staunch defense of each other to outsiders. When we were really mad at each other and wanted to inflict pain, one of us would yell, “Mommy likes me best. She always gives me the biggest piece”. It didn’t matter if it was a piece of cake, pizza or meat – what mattered was that it was the biggest!
This example of “more equal than others” came to mind last week when talking with a client about their desire to offer their Platinum customers a higher level of service. Tiering customers by the revenue they deliver is common and is borne from the desire to build strong, resilient relationships with your top revenue producing customers – an important goal when achieved for the right reasons with the right actions.
But delivering different levels of customer service to stratified levels of customers is a slippery slope. Customer favoritism is risky. There are serious dangers in defining customer service levels by the revenue you receive:
You open the door for your service staff to decide that certain customers are not “worthy” of their time or extra effort.
You give your service staff a ready excuse for not performing at their best ALL the time.
You reduce your opportunity to use superior service as way to turn customers into Platinum customers – it’s the old chicken & the egg, “they don’t get the service until they become Platinum” - but you got the first Platinum customers by exceeding expectations.
Delivering superior service should be the mission of your staff every day with every customer, without fail! Building lasting relationships with customers is critical but there are other ways that are more productive and that tie you and your customer together – mutual success is a powerful driver. Nurture your top revenue producing customers bybuilding a relationship based on “mutual success”!
Consider these strategies for creating and sustaining life time customers:
Solve a customers’ problems – use your internal expertise in systems, or channel development or recruiting, you pick it, to solve their problem.
Partner for innovation. Collaborate on developing new products, yours and theirs.
Build a great communication strategy between you and the customer that keeps them current on your activities and your value.
Anticipate their needs, don’t’ wait to be asked. Go to them with ideas, solutions.
Invite customer participation in your strategy sessions. Seek their input – but be sure to act. Don’t ask if you don’t intend to act.
Create a Customer Advisory Board with rotating membership.
When you create synergistic relationships based on mutual need and mutual success, you are building strong, lasting relationships that will drive and increase your revenue – because it drives and increases your customer’s revenue. In the valid desire to nurture your top customers, don’t lose sight of the fact that superior service is the foundation for every customer relationship and should never be used as a tool to reward or punish customers.
Give us a call! Let’s talk about relationship strategies for your company that will increase your life time value to your customers.
Check out the recent newsletter of Seltzer Design Intelligence for more service tips. Seltzer is a terrific design firm that consistently delivers "above and beyond" service.
Catalytic Management specializes in business performance and growth
including sales effectiveness, customer service and business
process improvement for companies
in New England and the Northeast.