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Recently, I decided to jump ship–business-wise.  For the first time in five years, I decided not to use the printing company I had come to depend on. Why? They had poor customer service, and there was no customer relationship management. Basically, they made my life harder than it needed to be. They failed me in three basic ways:
  1. No Registration Option: There was no way that I, as a customer, could register for an account on their website. These days that is a major faux pas in customer service. Every time I have to re-enter an order is time I could spend doing something else.
  2. Extended Wait Time: I had to wait for art approvals, which can take a few days. That kind of turn-around time isn’t realistic anymore. I needed quicker customer service.
  3. Unnecessary Phone Time: If I can’t reach you, how can I do business with you? Instead of streamlining their customer service process, I ended up playing phone tag with the company, costing me several more hours worth of time and aggravation.
They could have deepened their customer relationship and increased their customer satisfaction in several ways:
  1. Offer Customers Convenience: They could have offered me the option of registering for a static account online that would allow me to see my order, the status of my order, or even past orders that had been submitted. Reordering would have been a snap.
  2. Minimize Wait Times: Instead of waiting for art approvals that could take several days, the printing company could have offered me the option of instant uploading and printing.
  3. Enable Customer Communication: I should have been able to contact them quickly and easily. You can make sure your own customers can interact with you by giving them multiple ways to reach you–phone, e-mail, contact form, fax, etc.
I had originally chosen this printing company because they were the best company and the least expensive. Or so they were at the time. But after experiencing sub par customer support and flagging customer service, I went price shopping. Within the first three minutes of web searching, I found two websites for printing companies that charged up to 50 percent less. So why did I stay with that printing company so long? Habit. Nothing more, nothing less. And habit isn’t a good enough substitute for reliable customer relations or quality customer service. What can you do in your own small business or business start-up to deepen your customer relationships in order to create customer loyalty and earn more money?

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