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The Year of the Existing Customer
Feb 9, 2009

Nikki Baird , managing partner of Retail Systems Research, offers her suggestions on how to retain existing customer relationships in these difficult times. Read Article

This focus on retaining existing customers presupposes that you have established relationships that are capable of being retained.  At the very center of what happened to most of the retail casualties of the economic downturn last year, were  many retailers who maintained loose or no relationships with those they served and customers fled like a frightened  flock of birds.  To prevent that happening as the economy worsens retaining customers has to become a top priority.  How? Here is what I suggest:

        - Everyone within a  company must assume partial ownership of the customer/clientsrelationships
        - That ownership needs to be led and supported by senior management
        - Part of everyone's workday needs to be directed to customer activity/retention
        - Non-value added work and bureaucracy must to be eliminated
        - Every workday should begin with a brief customer service reinforcement for all associates     
        - Become extraordinarily easy to do business with
        - Communicate with customers as you never have before
        - Make your service excellence behavior  overwhelming
        - Get customers talking positively about you
        - Seek opportunities to create memories at every turn
        - Creativity in customer interactions need to guide your actions
        - Try to never say no or we can't
        - Put the customer first; every time
        - Immediately resolve conflict and complaints 
        - Empower everyone to do so  

Not only will Service Excellence help you retain your customers and clients during this recession, it will position you  well to spring forward once the economic upturn begins.  Forming great service habits will be difficult to break, because of the reaction you will receive from those you serve, during these bad times. A retained customer is the beginning of loyal relationships. These difficult times are the perfect starting point if you have not served well in your past.  The reality is you have no choice.     

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