Last week in my core MA module, we discussed the concept of relationship management, or RM. The principle behind this term is developing relationships with existing customers to maintain loyalty rather than wasting resources to go out and get new ones, which is a lot harder. I’ve had a good amount of experience in customer service, which I see as one of the key tools in relationship management. It’s also very undervalued in business practice.

I was fortunate enough to find a job working as the Customer Happiness Coordinator with a food products company in the U.S. That title catches the eye of a lot of people when they look at my resume. What, exactly, is a Customer Happiness Coordinator? My purpose is in my title: keeping customers happy was my first concern.

I would spend my days responding to customers as quickly, efficiently, and appropriately as possible. I was in charge of tracking social media comments and queries, phone calls into our main office, and emails that came from customers who wanted to know about everything from when our product would be back in their local Whole Foods to whether or not they could have a replacement product since their order was damaged in shipping.

Essentially, I helped make sure that our RM model was based around our happy customers. My experiences helped develop my problem-solving skills, my ability to mitigate a tense situation (we had some not-so-happy customers that I had to make happy somehow or another), and my creativity.

My point is that this kind of focus on customer happiness was worth it. When I tracked and displayed the data in a presentation to my supervisor, the complaints from one problem area had decreased, resulting in higher customer happiness. Plus, our advertising and marketing strategy relied a lot on word of mouth communication; when one customer was made happy, she told others about it.

I think a focus on customer service is so essential to good business practice and RM. Having been on the receiving end of some terrible customer service, I know the value of patience, clarity, and attentiveness. Bad customer service is a huge turn-off. Plus, I make sure that when I get good customer service, I let someone know about it. I like to let someone know they’re doing well so that it’s not always complaints they deal with.

More companies would do well to treat their customers better, to try to honestly fix mistakes, and do whatever they can to make the situation happy again. It’s an investment worth making.

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