Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Customer Satisfaction and Micro MNC

The day I wrote my last post, I received an e-mail from Zach Nelson, CEO of Net Suite, and a  phone call the day after from the VP of finance. Both of them were apparently concerned about our unpleasant experience with the company. I have to acknowledge that it was good to get the reassurance that our negative experience was an isolated incident and was not a management backed culture at Net Suite.  I do understand that life is not perfect, things can happen, people can makes mistakes, systems can break, and misunderstanding can occur in any organizations but as a customer I expect them to be politely acknowledged, logically explained and reasonably resolved for me to be satisfied and move on to business as usual without any bad feelings.

Having said that, I also strongly believe that most of the customers are like that whether they are buying a software service or an air purifier. Although customer satisfaction is important for every business but this is a concept that any entrepreneur running a micro-multinational must understand. The reason is that the chances of things going wrong are much higher in trying to manage an international business with limited money and staff.  Hiccups in the business process that will upset customers are just  inevitable  but  it is amazing the results a business can achieve  by simply admitting to a customer that a fault has occurred and comforting him/her that the steps will be taken to remedy the unpleasant situation. The chances are that this particular customer will turn out to be a bigger asset for the business than the one who never experienced any problem. (Note: Now for all those wise entrepreneurs thinking to play the trick on every customer to make them a 'bigger asset', please don't. First of all there is a financial cost associated with making mistakes and then fixing them later. Secondly, don't even think about doing it without having a feature in your business management software to keep track of the 'trick' because customers will only tolerate it once. :)

At Heaven Fresh, when a customer calls or writes with a complaint, we try our best to receive it with open arms and a humble attitude believing that there must be something wrong on our side for the customer to contact us. We listen attentively and we investigate thoroughly and most often it turns out that the customer's satisfaction is just a matter of a simple explanation and a few comforting words. For the times when we find a mistake on our part, admitting the error, apologizing for it, rectifying it, and offering a discount or a complimentary gift for the inconvenience  makes a customer the happiest person on earth.

With a limited budget for advertisement and no money for developing new products to compete with resourceful competitors, up close and personal customer service and a deep care for the customers' satisfaction is the single most powerful weapon that can set a micro-multinational apart from the competition to earn the customer loyalty for its brand.  That is precisely the kind of loyalty for the Heaven Fresh name we strive for every day to keep these customers coming back and bring their friends with them. The beauty is that we can achieve this goal by just being courteous and respectful ,  without spending any money - the money that we do not have.


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