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< prev - next > Food processing how to find and keep customers (Printable PDF)
How to find and keep customers
Practical Action
Type of survey
Customer satisfaction surveys
Customer service surveys
Other customer surveys
Account closure surveys
Table 4. Types of customer surveys
To measure the satisfaction of customers with your
products and be alerted to any negative responses.
To measure satisfaction of each customer with the
service you provide.
To collect information from customers for promotional
case studies, success stories, testimonials, reviews of
your product or the service you provide, or contact
Anonymous feedback to find the reasons why customers
who do not wish to continue selling your products close
their accounts with you.
Methods that focus on satisfying customers’ needs include for example:
Finding out what customers like about the product or level of service you provide (Table 4)
and reinforce or expand this.
Making sure that all staff have customer-orientated attitudes so that customers feel valued
when staff deal with them. The most important people in a processing business are
qualified and well-trained staff who are committed to good customer service, as without
these all other efforts to meet customers’ needs will be wasted.
Developing a procedure that guides staff through the process of managing customer
complaints and giving staff the responsibility to effectively handle complaints and make
any decisions they consider necessary.
Reinforcing the idea among staff that ‘the customer comes first’ or ‘the customer is king’.
Note: the idea that the customer ‘is always right’ is clearly not true: some customers make
unreasonable demands, others have unreasonable expectations and some simply do not tell
the truth. Too many processors believe that good customer service means bowing to the whims
of every customer who has a complaint. Clearly processors are not able to give all customers
what they ask for, but they can get them to understand what is possible and what is not, in a
way that they will find acceptable. In summary, know when there is a real problem that needs
addressing and fix it, but do not let people walk all over you.
Customer service training is available in most countries from commercial training agencies and
although it can be expensive, it may be worth considering if a number of small-scale
processors join together to fund a short course, or organise it through a small business
association or chamber of commerce.
The two most common complaints by customers are that a processor supplied products that
did not meet the agreed quality or specification, or that the delivery was not on time. Whatever
their nature, all complaints should be dealt with efficiently and promptly. If a complaint is
handled fairly and quickly, the customer is likely to respond positively and feel that their
complaint has been taken seriously. This can turn a problem into a benefit, improve the
reputation of the business and help develop customer loyalty.
All buyers want to do business with trustworthy companies, and processors must have a
reputation for high integrity so that both customers and suppliers trust them. This trust must
be earned continuously and it can take time to develop. But it is worth it because satisfied
customers may also tell others about the treatment they have received and so generate new
customers. Trust can also be lost in an instant by poor service: if customers are dissatisfied
with the way their complaints are handled, they may tell others not to buy from this processor
Trust can be achieved by ensuring that the quality of products is always maintained at a high
standard and that all contact with customers is courteous and knowledgeable. This includes
the manner in which telephone calls are answered and the way in which face-to-face meetings
are conducted. In all situations, processors and their staff should be open, pleasant,