“Loyalty cannot be blueprinted. It cannot be produced on an assembly line. In fact, it cannot be manufactured at all, for its origin is the human heart-the centre of self respect and human dignity. It is a force which leaps into being only when conditions are exactly right for it-and it is a force very sensitive to betrayal.” – Maurice Franks
There are many theories and principles designed by the stalwarts of B-Schools spread across the globe which brag to ensure customer retention but on-paper formulae have to match-up to on-ground realities, efforts and a sense of commitment towards being customer centric.
Take a step back and before you draft the core values of a ‘Customer-First’ mission statement for your organization, visualize what all experiences made you a life-long loyalist when you step onto the stage of life to essay the role of a customer!
The newspaper vendor seems to be an ardent fan of the the ‘Being Human’ founder, owner and ambassador, none other than the heartthrob of the nation – our very own Tinseltown superstar Salman Khan and he seems to be practically applying the famous dialogue from maiden movie in the Dabang franchise-“Ek Baar Jo Maine Commitment Kar Le Toh Main Apne Aap Ki Bhi Nahi Sunta” as he is seen battling all odds and seasons to ensure that the copies of newsletters we have subscribed to are at our doorstep every morning without a single miss. So this sense of commitment has to be in the ‘ Niyat, Aadat and Fitrat’ of the organization. ‘Being Human’ towards the customers would make you remain at the top of charts of the ‘Being the Preferred Partner’ list and keep the Sales Box Office collection ringing, no matter what product or service you are offering!
Our first car in the family was a brand new Maruti and the kind of seamless after-sales experience it provided led us to be brand advocates for the automobile giant for three generations. Their on-boarding programme via a detailed demo on do’s and don’ts for its first time buyers, timely follow-up and reminder calls for servicing with military precision, hassle-free pick-up and drop facility and an attitude to extend a helping hand is unparalleled and uncompromising. Customer-centric behaviour has to flow through the veins of the organization and imbibed in its DNA culture. It is not one man’s job and requires collective responsibility of everyone in the sales journey of a customer. Making fake promises, exaggerated bragging and agreeing to unrealistic deadlines when it comes to luring your customers backfire. Misleading to buy a product or subscribe to a service the customers do not intend to have might succeed in getting that product off the shelves or meeting the monthly target by fooling them into a trap but that would soar a relationship and cost a lot in the long run. And every single touch-point in the Maruti set-up understands this very well.
The canteen-wala who enquires about my whereabouts after I turn up at his counter post a long vacation break leaves me feeling valued. And he remembering my preference , out of the scores of customers he caters to , of an adrak-wali-chai-with-less-sugar or landing of a plate of Sabudana Khicdi on every Sankashti Chaturthi even before I placing an order makes me appreciate his raw wisdom in inculcating the basic principles of KYC(Know Your Customer) and SYC (Support Your Customer) in a literal sense. His appetite to consistently review the feedback on anything and everything ranging from alteration in the menu to managing long waiting queues which do not go well with the short break timings we professionals have has earned him a loyal customer base. Staying relevant, given the surge of eateries right outside the IT Park campus like mushrooms in the rainy season, is extremely important to him and he does a commendable job on that front.
Whether you are a Punekar, with sarcasm and criticism being the two pillars of your growing up years or an outsider with relatively better sensibilities it doesn’t really matter when it comes to patronizing the two indispensable entities which have grown to become Pune’s identity in a colloquial way . Once you step into and have Chitale Bandhu’s ‘Jagaat Bhari’ Bakarwadi packed ,to be savoured with steaming chai or relish Vaishali’s Idli-Dosa-Wada combo, no else competitor on Earth can dare to woe you to get on their side! These people have taken top-notch quality and consistency in taste to a whole new level altogether. If you analyze the franchise network of Chitale Bandhu that spiralled into a lucrative business model in no time, in an otherwise laid-back culture of Pune taking pride in ‘We Do Not Have Any Other Branch’ sign, you would realize what the quote,“Loyal customers, they don’t just come back, they don’t simply recommend you, they insist that their friends do business with you” means! A visit to Vaishali is on must-visit-wish-list and on the itinerary of every new visitor in the family as much as witnessing the ruined remains of Bajirao-Mastani’s tragic love story in the erstwhile royal abode of the Peshwas-Shaniwarwada is!
Customer retention would turn out to be a cake walk if the organizations pay attention to the three C’s of their existing client-base– Cost, Comfort and Convenience!
However the incessant downpour of calls, mails and messages from the credit card-debit card-loan-and-mobile-plan brigade all loaded with marketing material of desperate sellers, notwithstanding up front confirmation of disinterest from the customers , annoys and irate a good bunch of people. The same reaction gets triggered for unresponsiveness demonstrated towards constructive complaints, delayed deliveries and messed-up orders. The emerging AI and ML options provide a one-stop solution to all these problems whilst dealing with data on a scale!