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OPINION


‘All Your Customers Should Be Satisfied Customers’


IN THE FIRST OF A SERIES OF REGULAR OPINION PIECES, JAMIE ADAMS LOOKS AT THE IMPORTANCE OF CUSTOMER SATISFACTION WITHIN THE WET LEISURE INDUSTRY.


Some of you might know that I’m the current chairman of Pool Industry Promotions (PIP) and a board member of the British Swimming Pool Federation (BSPF) but I don’t know if those are the best reasons that I should be writing this and you should read on. I think it’s this.


I


I started in the wet leisure business in 1976. That summer I built my first in-ground pool. Before you start trying to do the maths, I was 14 years old and was helping my father, the founder of Golden Coast. In the following 36 years I worked in every aspect of the pool and spa trade; construction, distribution and operations. I’ve learnt the skills and I’ve had my hands dirty. But there is one skill that I’ve learnt that I think makes more of a difference to our business today than any other – marketing. Well, what have satisfied customers got to do with marketing, you might ask? There are as many definitions of marketing as there are ‘marketing gurus’ so I’ll paraphrase the Oxford Dictionary and say that marketing is anything that promotes a business and sells products or services. Customer satisfaction builds word of mouth referrals, a healthier profit margin and can help grow your business. I would say that ticks the ‘marketing’ box, wouldn’t you?


‘All my customers are satisfied customers’ We all take a pride in our businesses and we all like to think that our customers are happy with the service that we give them. They had better be, because customer satisfaction is the biggest single driver behind word-of- mouth advertising and more businesses in our industry put their faith in word-of-mouth advertising than they do in press or radio. In fact, some businesses rely on it. If you make that word-of-mouth communication digital, you get social media, and almost half of all businesses in our industry are involved with that. So you definitely want people to be saying good things about you and your business, the products that you sell and the services you offer but there is a complication. Your products and services may well be first class, but people often don’t feel themselves qualified to judge on that score. However, they do know if they are ‘happy’ with the customer service that they have received. You know yourself how that works; you may


46 June 2013 SPN


’ve been asked to write a regular opinion piece for SPN.


not know how the IT guy fixed your computer, but he did what he promised when he said he would and he was nice about it so you recommend him to your friends.


There is another good thing about customer satisfaction. Research has shown that customers are willing to spend significantly more with a business that offers great customer service and a really good customer experience. The report revealed that an impressive 81% of people would be willing to pay more for better customer service and almost half would pay a premium of more than 5%.


That is a lot of people prepared to give you a lot more money.


So, the two added together give you a growing number of customers prepared to pay just that little bit more than they could get if they shopped around or scoured the internet. That must make customer satisfaction one of the most important things your business needs to aim for, but what exactly does it mean?


‘Customer service means different things to different people’ At Golden Coast we have learnt something very important about customer service and that is, different customers value different


things. People are all unique and one of the aspects that make them so is that it sometimes takes dissimilar things to make them happy.


The best way to find out what sort of service your customers want is to ask them. People liked being asked. Would they like to be kept up to date with the latest developments in the market? Would they like you to get in touch when their pool or spa is due a routine service or would they rather that you left it to them to call you? Ask them. Ring your customers and ask for feedback on the work that you have done for them. Do a customer satisfaction survey by phone, or post or email. If nothing else, it tells your customers that they are important to you. It can be a little unnerving to ask for feedback in this way. Almost as if you are asking for praise but most people won’t see it that way. If you do it right they will see that you are genuinely concerned about their approval of your business and respond accordingly. Of course, the other issue is that you might be concerned that you will un-earth unhappy customers. Well, if you do then you have a chance to address their issues and get them back on your side. If you don’t contact them, they will still be unhappy with your business but they will be telling that to other people rather than you. SPN


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