10 Ways to Be a Resource for your Customers
Here are ten ways to adopt a "resource provider" perspective when working with your existing customers.
1. Make Connections.
If your client is lacking people to help get a job done, find those people and connect with them. Your partners in your endeavors will form a strong team. As a group, you'll provide more variety, creativity, and problem-solving know-how to your customers' potential obstacles.
2. Share Referrals.
Offer print and website lists of professionals you recommend and work with: these may be product or service providers who naturally "fit" as partners to your current position. As women in business, we are very "networked" to others: share these relationships with people who benefit from your knowledge and connections.
3. Offer Information.
Provide white papers or research that you've undertaken that will benefit your customers. Everyone wants to keep up-to-date with ways to save money and be more effective: consider offering a quarterly e-newsletter or some PDF downloads from your site: information is power and when you share information, you empower others.
If your process is "clunky" or has a number of bottlenecks, find ways to streamline your process and make it more straightforward.
Do you require five pieces of paperwork? Consider consolidating into one form, if possible.
Do you have paper forms? Move to an online system to reduce paper.
Not sure where to direct customers? Make a flowchart to help staff identify where customers currently are and where they want to go.
Make it as easy as possible for people to say "yes" to working with you and your company.
5. Check it off.
A checklist is helpful to people who think in sets. Create a checklist of your process and post it in a prominent place. A checklist helps your customers understand your process and where they fit into your workflow. Include "sub-routine" procedures that your customer might go through: a checklist helps fill in gaps in understanding and gives readers a general idea of how your company works.
6. Think bigger.
Do your clients have other needs that you don't currently fill? Consider investing in some research and development to precisely match a need that you know needs filling. This may be a new kind of widget or gadget, or a better type of system, or a new piece of software. If your customers know what they need, find a way to help them achieve that. Think from the big picture (what's needed?) and then fill in the details (how do we do it?).
7. Take advantage of technology.
Provide a way for customers to access the information they need online.
Is there a log-in section you need to offer on your website?
Is there an uploads section you'd like to give to your important clients?
Is there boilerplate text that you may post?
Is there a Frequently-Asked Questions section that will benefit your customers?
If so, add these items to your web and print materials.
If your customers may find the information they need online, you free up your human staff to innovate and problem-solve.
What options, gifts, or opportunities will you give your customers? I'm sure there are ways for you to make your current products and services even more valuable: find them and offer them to your clients. When you shop, you like "buy one, get one free." What do you offer to customers so they feel like what they're buying is a great deal?
What type of stumbling blocks are you identifying in your current business process?
Is there technology to help overcome this?
Do you need different people to address current issues?
Find a way to use your company's skills and internal knowledge to provide even more efficient and effective customer service.
Your customers benefit from the unique perspectives your team offers: when you mix it up a little and add diverse people's viewpoints to your group, you find even more ways to provide an extra level of service. Better service makes a big difference to your happy customer.
When you find ways to provide value to your customers, they'll choose you, time and time again, over any other company out there.