By Lara Morgan, Founder Of Pacific Direct

You must have a customer-first service ethic and attitude in every part of your company; after all, the customers pay your salary and retention builds a business.

Your cultural values must put the customer at the centre of all the decisions you make in development and investment into your business. Staying in touch and being at the coalface is critical. This is much easier in the early days, when you will perhaps have time every day for face-to-face client meetings, but it becomes necessary effort later on as your business outgrows your direct individual sales drive.

I do not remember formally learning anything about customer service; all I have ever thought is that in order to be able to be the best, the company I represented needed to deliver consistently on its promise. In those days we had phenomenal client retention rates which supported our huge growth rates — and by the way, a lost customer can be the most powerful learning experience.

If you ask your departing client why they are going elsewhere for a service you have previously provided, you may discover a great deal about the shortcomings of your operation against the better offer from a competitor. In my experience you will be surprised at the level of detail a customer will be willing to provide which will help you improve for the future.

One of our more entrepreneurial and adventurous ways of introducing our business to our customers in a different and memorable way — and at low cost — was when I joined the Housekeepers’ Association in London and the Midlands. I attended as many events as I could and built relationships which remained in place during the development years and onwards throughout the success of the company. Are you a member of your local trade organisation?

The opportunity arose for Pacific Direct to sponsor an event for them and I came up with a scheme to educate our customers in how soap was made. I paid for coaches to collect housekeepers from London and drive them to Buckingham one afternoon to visit our soap supplier, the newly established Buckingham Soaps. Winter months meant timing was tight as we needed the housekeepers to get round the small plant quickly in daylight hours, and we hired a baked potato van to feed them during their visit.

This wasn’t exactly five-star catering standard, but despite being run on a shoestring budget the event was a huge success. It was something different for the Association, something educational and interesting — and it was a captured audience for Pacific.

Extract from More Balls Than Most by Lara Morgan, www.companyshortcuts.com Published by Infinite Ideas

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