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< prev - next > Food processing how to find and keep customers (Printable PDF)
How to find and keep customers
Practical Action
cooperative and helpful towards customers. Ensure that any problems are addressed and
solved with a minimum of effort on the customer’s part, and any mistakes are admitted and
corrected quickly. A summary of ways to improve customer care is given in Figure 4.
1. Treat customers with dignity and do not be annoyed at them for complaining.
2. Go beyond the minimum needed to solve a customer’s problem: the customer will
remember it and you will get positive word of mouth advertising.
3. A good maxim for all employees is ‘under-promise and over-deliver’.
4. Don't make excuses: if it is your fault, say so and tell the customer that an error
been made but you will put it right.
5. If it is your fault, don't try to blame the error on the customer, a supplier, or anyone
6. Do not take complaints personally - the customer may be angry about the situation,
not at you specifically.
7. Listen to what your customers are saying and do not assume you know what they
8. Pay close attention to what you're promising, and don't let a customer talk you into
more than you can deliver.
9. Give the customer your attention and do not be distracted when talking to them.
10. Address problems straight away.
11. Follow up a problem by a visit or telephone call after it has been dealt with to make
sure that the outcome is satisfactory. Do not try to sell anything during this call or
meeting, but use it to find out the information you need.
12. Allow customers to express their anger without interruption until they calm down;
then explain that you wish to help find a solution.
13. Make an effort to put yourself in the customer’s position. Regardless of who is at
fault, the problem is real and needs to be addressed.
14. Offer an apology - sometimes this is all that customers want.
15. Ask questions that help you understand the problem and its cause. Listen carefully
to the answers because a complaint may indicate a deeper problem.
16. Identify and explain the causes of the problem and let the customer know what you
will do to rectify it and make sure it does not happen again.
17. If the customer requests something that is not possible, offer alternatives to solve
the problem.
18. Act straight away and do not put the problem on your ‘to do’ list.
19. Keep the customer informed of progress in addressing the complaint.
20. Consider offering the customer additional compensation for the poor experience: this
does not need to be financial compensation, but it should be something that the
customer will value.
Table 5: Twenty tips to improve customer care.
It is important to recognise that when a customer reports a problem there is usually a reason
why the problem occurred. After finding a solution that satisfies the customer, it is important
to look at the business operating procedures to prevent it from happening again. Although
complaints may appear to negatively affect the image of a company, they help to find
problems and improve the quality of products or the service offered. More importantly,
complaints are an opportunity to show customers how valuable they are and to strengthen their
loyalty. All companies fail to deliver a good service occasionally, but the difference between
good companies and the others is how they respond when they make a mistake. The best
processors understand the value of complaints and have clear procedures to address them.