’If you will just be real, be friendly and be WOW, you are halfway up the ladder to customer loyalty and personal success beyond your wildest dreams,’’ Jeffrey Gitomer
- Customers are the source of your paycheck.
- Your friendliness and willingness to help is in direct proportion to your success.
- One of the most powerful aspects of service: being different – it’s all in the first few words.
- Word-of-mouth advertising is the most powerful form of advertising in the world.
- ‘’Loyal’’ is the most difficult of customer service goals to achieve.
These days, customers are smarter, leaner, price-conscious and hit on more by competitors. And because of poor service expectations, these customers are also: more demanding, less forgiving, harder to satisfy, less loyal. And so the challenge for the 21st century is not just serving customers – it is:
- Understanding customers and putting yourself in the customer’s shoes
- Helping an angry customer immediately
- Being responsible for your actions when a customer calls
- Being memorable
- Striving to keep customers for life
- Getting unsolicited referrals from customers regularly.
Just because they are satisfied does not mean they are loyal. Satisfied customers will buy from anyone. Satisfaction is no longer the acceptable standard of customer service. The standard and measure of success for the next millennium is loyal customers. Are you measuring up? Would you rate your customer service as something worth talking about? If not, your competition is breathing a sigh of relief.
Customers don’t make up stories about you or your actions – you create them. What stories have you created? How do you think of your customers? Do you realize that they feed you? Do you understand that your degree of service helps determine your wage and your success? How willing are you to help? When a customer calls with a problem, do you try to get rid of it, or are you the person who solves it?
Do you call customers back after the problem to ask if they were served okay and that all is well? How friendly are your company’s first words? How is your company being represented? How well are your staff trained to respond to the need, and ask for the sale? Do you know how much one customer means to your company? Have you ever lost a customer? Did you calculate the cost of the loss?
What are you doing to ensure the competitive advantage of repeat business?
What are you doing to build quality relationships with every customer? Quality relationships are where re-orders come from. If the customer is mistreated or decides to test the competition, that advantage may be permanently lost. These are common-knowledge statistics quoted about dissatisfied customers:
- 91% will never return
- 96% won’t tell you the real reason they left
- It costs 10 times more to replace a customer than it does to keep them.
A customer ready to repeat his purchase is a powerful business advantage
A re-order sale is 100 times easier to get than a sale from an ad, or a sale from a cold call. What strategy do you have in place to stay in front of your customers in times of ‘’non-sale’’ as much as you do in times of ‘’sale’’.
Try this – Include relationship-building strategies in every re-order. After you take that order, ask each of the next set of customers ‘’why’’’ they bought from you and what you could do next time that would make ordering easier. Customers always have the best ideas to improve your business.
Measure your ‘’friendly’’ factor
Friendly is at the epicentre of your business. The value of ‘friendly’ is beyond measure – it costs nothing, yet it’s worth a fortune. Survey your staff, survey your customers and vendors – get frequent (anonymous) feedback. Ask questions that get to the truth about happiness. Get the pulse from the heart.
Take customer problems seriously – not their language or tone personally. Help them, solve their problems, get real with them, make them say ‘WOW’.
The Self-Test formula for successful customer service
- Be friendly first. Customer service starts with a friendly person who offers friendly words. How friendly is your business?
- Attitude precedes service. What are your thoughts? Positive all the time? How are you guiding them?
- Serve in terms of the customer. Customers only care about their situation not what your situation is. Are you serving them in terms of them or you?
- Recognize customers for what they are – your paycheck. How do you treat your paycheck?
- Listen all the way out. Make sure the customer has told you everything. Don’t interrupt. Ask questions to understand their problem better and to find out what it will take to help them – the way they want to be helped.
[READ ALSO: Why customers switch banks)
Word of mouth advertising is 50 times more powerful than advertising
One person telling another what to do – what to buy, where to shop, what and where to eat, what not to buy, eat, use. You just have to create that memorable customer service. What’s the word in the street about your business? How many people call you out-of-the-blue to place orders? How many people tell you positive stories they ‘’heard’’ about you?
What are the advantages of great service?
- It builds goodwill: Consistent service creates and builds reputation.
- It creates memorable experiences that will be retold over time and makes customers salespeople for your business.
Service is a feeling. You know what it is when you get it – so give back the same thing or more. The simple secret is – don’t give any feeling to others you wouldn’t want to feel. You know when you’re doing a good job, you can feel it. You also know when you’re doing your best. It is an inside feeling of YES!
African leaders should support MSMEs for rapid recovery of economies – Report
African leaders would help speed up the recovery process in most African economies if they can continue to support the MSMEs.
African leaders have been enjoined to promote and support policies that would strategically support the Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) and speed up the recovery process in most African nations.
This was stated in the Foresight Africa 2021 report, a publication of African Growth Initiatives of the Brookings Institution, a non-profit organization devoted to independent research and policy solutions.
According to the report:
- “Policymakers must continue to support businesses—both smaller enterprises and larger firms—that have been disrupted by the crisis.
- “Arguably, the greatest priority must be to bolster the micro-, small-, and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) that are key to African commerce and account for 83 percent of private-sector employment in Africa.
- “Such businesses, which number between 85 million to 95 million, are especially vulnerable to COVID-19 mitigation measures given they are often characterized by person-to-person contact. By just May 2020, 75 percent saw their revenue decline by over 30 percent.
- Finance will continue to be one of the greatest needs for African businesses; indeed, only 5 percent of MSMEs across the continent feel they have received adequate support from lenders. Provided governments navigate Africa’s fiscal challenges with skill and determination, they can continue offering suitable financial support to small enterprises; in addition to indirect support through value chains and banks, such assistance might include loans, debt forgiveness, low-interest rates, assistance with payments to suppliers, and reduction in utility costs.”
Ways Governments can provide financial support to MSMEs
- “There are several steps that governments can take to provide financial support to MSMEs. One option is to assist MSMEs through larger firms in their value chains, which might include upstream suppliers and downstream buyers.
- “Governments can provide easier liquidity and working-capital terms to these larger players, and they can make such support conditional upon these firms’ providing favourable financial terms to MSMEs.
- “Governments can also consider providing risk guarantees or first-loss mechanisms while requiring banks to on-lend under the chosen set of criteria and guidelines in order to encourage banks to lend to MSMEs.
- “Policymakers must not lose sight of the region’s informal sector, as 84 percent of African MSMEs are unregistered. Policymakers can take advantage of the opportunity created by the crisis to convince larger numbers of informal enterprises to register, and thus gain better access to finance and markets. Moreover, to promote registration, governments could shape bold campaigns and attractive packages, potentially including multi-year tax holidays and capacity building for MSMEs.”
Why this matters
- Micro, Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (MSMEs) are widely recognized for the important contributions they make to sustainable development, in terms of contributions to economic growth, creation of jobs, provision of public goods and services, as well as poverty alleviation and reduced inequality.
- The pandemic has seriously impacted the MSMEs in all African nations as it has exacerbated economic hardship and may have pushed more than 40 million Africans into extreme poverty.
- It is imperative that the African leaders focus on enabling businesses to respond effectively to these new and unfavourable conditions to which most MSMEs have been exposed to.
The FG in partnership with the private sector will continue to support MSMEs – Osinbajo
Osinbajo has stated that the FG in partnership with the private sector would continue to provide interventions to boost the growth of small businesses.
Nigeria’s Vice-president Prof. Yemi Osinbajo during an MSME stakeholders’ meeting, disclosed that the Federal Government in partnership with the private sector would continue to provide interventions to boost the growth of small businesses across the country.
According to a press statement issued by Laolu Akande, the VP made this statement on Monday at the first meeting of MSMEs stakeholders for the year 2021.
Prof. Osinbajo said the Government would continue to support innovation and interventions to deepen the involvement of new and existing MSMEs in the nation, this he said would help to improve the economy and create more employment opportunities for Nigerians.
He stressed further that the implementation of the Economic Sustainability Plan Survival Funds has sent positive economic signals. In a bid to complement the gains in this space, the Government needs to scale up interventions in the MSMEs sector.
In this vein, Osinbajo urged stakeholders in the public and private sectors at the virtual meeting to be innovative in the interventions planned for small businesses across the country, so as to consolidate on the gains recorded in the MSMEs space in the past few years.
What they are saying
Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, during the MSME stakeholders’ meeting, said:
“We must continue to be innovative in the interventions that we plan for MSMEs because small businesses are the engines of growth of any economy, in the areas of wealth creation and employment opportunities, MSMEs are very important.”
Continuing, Prof. Osinbajo said:
“We really have to think out of the box in our engagements going forward. We need to change the way we do many things, we need to look for ways of multiplying our efforts because the challenges in this space are greater than what we have been able to achieve so far. Of course, we have done a lot, but looking at the numbers in need, you will find out that there is a lot more to be done.”
What you should know
- The Federal Government’s MSMEs Survival Fund grant scheme, which includes Payroll Support, Artisans and Transport support tracks, is a component under the Nigerian Economic Sustainability Plan, NESP.
- The Survival Fund scheme was designed to cushion the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic especially on the most vulnerable small businesses, is a conditional grant to support vulnerable MSMEs in meeting their payroll obligations and safeguard jobs in the MSMEs sector.
- The scheme is estimated to save not less than 1.3 million jobs across the country. However, 283,023 Nigerians employed by MSMEs across the country have benefited from the Payroll Support Scheme. This leaves millions of Nigerians out of the consideration of the scheme.
283,023 Nigerians employed by MSMEs have benefited from FG Payroll Support Scheme
The FG has revealed that over 200,000 persons have so far benefited from its Payroll Support Program.
The Federal Government of Nigeria has disclosed that 283,032 Nigerians employed by MSMEs across the country have so far benefited from the Payroll Support Scheme of the Federal Government.
This disclosure was made in a tweet shared via FG Survival Fund’s official Twitter account.
— MSME Survival Fund (@SurvivalFund_ng) January 6, 2021
What you should know
- The Payroll Support Program by FG under the Survival Fund initiative was created to provide an adequate buffer against the impact of the COVID-19 on the stream of income of MSMEs.
- This, however, is an offshoot of the Survival Fund initiative, established to support and protect small businesses from potential vulnerabilities brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic.
- In line with the mandate of the programme, the government will support MSMEs with staff salaries for 3 months.
- It is important to note that the COVID-19 pandemic and other regulatory actions of the Federal Government affected the core segments of SMEs, as well as the revenue and income vehicles of Small businesses in Nigeria.
- According to a survey by NBS, it became public knowledge that the total number of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises in the country was about 41.5 million, as of December 2017, with significant employment contribution running to millions.
- In the light of this, it is plausible to say that the Payroll support programme is not inclusive enough, as the recent move by FG to support MSMEs leaves millions of MSMEs and their employees out of the radar.