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By Steve Veltkamp

Customer Care Is Critical

Tom Peters, the author of "In Search Of Excellence" and numerous other business books, has developed a formula to figure the true value of a customer. Take the average purchase, and frequency, and calculate how much that customer could purchase in a year, if all purchases of this product were made with you. Then multiply it by 10, for the value of that customer. This represents the potential purchases over a decade, but doesn't even include referral business that customer can pull in. A family might spend $150,000 for automobiles, for instance, using this formula. Isn't this customer worth spending time and money on to keep loyal? A grocery shopper may spend $50 per week, which adds up to $2,500 per year, or a 10-year value of $25,000!

Yet, few businesses devote much attention, time or money to keeping customers. They spend tremendous amounts on advertising to attract new customers, but let the old ones slip away faster than the new ones come in. This seems like a foolish way to spend money unnecessarily.

Carl Sewell wrote a best-selling business book titled "Customers For Life." Here are his Ten Commandments of Customer Service.

1. Bring'em back alive. Ask customers what they want and give it to them again and again.

2. Systems, not smiles. Saying please and thank you doesn't ensure you'll do the job right the first time, every time. Only systems guarantee you that.

3. Under-promise, over-deliver. Customers expect you to keep your word. Exceed it.

4. When the customer asks, the answer is always yes. Period.

5. Fire your inspectors and consumer-relations department. Every employee who deals with clients must have the authority to handle complaints.


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