Mark my word, we are now entering a a new age of customer satisfaction. Note, I didn’t say customer service, I said customer satisfaction. Customer service represents specific steps that you are or aren’t taking to keep your customers satisfied. Satisfaction is the end result, and unfortunately, many if not most businesses, in good times and in bad have absolutely no idea if they’re keeping customers happy and satisfied.  In fact, many businesses have no idea if they’re losing regular customers on a daily, weekly or monthly basis. They usually aren’t aware until the accountant notes that sales are down.

We’re living in a dangerous time to be in business. We’re also living in the best time in history to be in business. Now is the time to get creative about how we serve and keep our customers. There are at least three things that you need to do now.

The first thing we need to know is what the lifetime value of a good customer is. This means looking beyond a single sale. We need to find out exactly what your customer is worth over a lifetime. Keep them happy, they’ll keep coming back and when they do over time, what is that worth to you. A single repeat customer can be worth tens of thousands of dollars over their lifetime. Multiply that by all the customers you have, and that number can become quite significant.

The second thing we need to understand is how easy it is for that “loyal” customer to leave today. Gone are the days when no matter what happens your customer will stick with you. I was raised going to the same bank, the same hardware store, the same pharmacy that my parents and grandparents went to. Today consumers are naturally fickle. Loyalty means nothing. Convenience rules. If you don’t provide the products or services that your customer wants or when they want it then they will find it somewhere else. Don’t believe me? It’s as easy as using Google.

The third thing we must know then is exactly what it is that your customer wants? The best way to discover that is to just ask them. Or do some simple research. Do surveys. Ask your industry experts. Look for trends. Find out what the competition is doing that works and then replicate it. No matter how you choose to find out, do it. Do it now.

Finally, you must be willing to adapt and change. If you don’t change to the needs of your customers, then you undoubtedly will be taken out of the game. Customer satisfaction might simply be that your customers want home delivery or to order from you on-line. It might be that they want 24-hour access, or curb side service. Maybe they want to do video conferencing or free on-line advice. Who knows, but you better find out. Don’t stick your head in the sand thinking that you won’t have to change with the rest of the world if you just ignore it. The world has changed, never to be the same. Start by finding out what your customers want. Once you know this, then give them what they want. If you don’t then they probably won’t want it anymore, from you anyway.

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