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Ensuring your customer gets the right experience

Mark 03 May 2017, 10:37AM
Ensuring your customer gets the right experienceEntrepreneur Naomi Simson speaking at the Australian Professional Pharmacy Conference

Entrepreneur Naomi Simson says the secret to good service is recognising your customer is a human being who needs something from you. 

It is a piece of advice that sits well with pharmacy, where human interaction is vital. 

Ms Simson was speaking at the Australian Professional Pharmacy Conference in the Gold Coast in March, where a number of speakers talked to pharmacists about the importance of good customer service. 

Ms Simson cut her teeth in marketing for Ansett Australia and Apple, learning first-hand at the airline how poor customer relations can affect a business. Things were so bad at times at the airline, she stopped telling people where she worked because they would complain to her about the poor service they had received. 

In 2001, she went out on her own and established Red Balloon, a website that sells experiences from dining to flying in a high-speed jet. When she started out, the internet was still in its infancy. Google was barely beyond a start-up, and Facebook wasn't even a twinkle in Mark Zuckerberg's eye. 

She told the audience at the conference it took her 10 years to make her first million, and two years to make her second.  

She puts two things at the top of her business - good customer service and getting the right team together. She says the two are not mutually exclusive, and good staff will understand the vision of the business and pass that on to the customer. 

She says if the staff deliver what the company promises the customer will go away happy and tell other people.  

"The most important marketing you can do is have your customer speak on your behalf," she says. 

The value of a happy customer as a marketing tool was echoed by Mark James, who spoke about "Keeping and growing the customer". 

"Your best customer not only comes back, they tell all their friends about you," he says. "Make your customer your number one fan."

Mr James is the co-founder of Customology, a consultancy company specialising in improving customer service. 

Both Mr James and Ms Simson say customers are all looking for a great experience and if they get that, they will tell others about it. 

They also agree selling that experience means having staff who are committed to what they do. 

Ms Simson says staff who are disengaged or hate their job will hurt your brand. If they are disengaged then set them free and let them work for the opposition.

Just letting bad staff go though is not enough, you have to align good staff to the company's vision. 

"I want people to come to work and do their best. To go home at the end of the day and feel proud about what they did."

She uses the example of her son, who rows in an eight, as the need for everyone to be pulling in the same direction. 

"Your staff should feel as one. You set the vision and they bring their talents to the cause." 

She says it is important the team understands the vision you have for the business and how it will be implemented, along with recognising success when it is. 

Staff should be motivated, challenged and given a sense of accomplishment when they achieve things.  

According to Mr James, 60% of Australian pharmacy customers aren't loyal to any one pharmacy. Factors such as price and convenience come into play when a customer decides which pharmacy to shop at, but they are not the only requirements. 

He says in the average pharmacy over the ditch, 80% of profits come from 20% of the customers. It's an equation that would probably be true here. 

Those 20% are loyal customers who will shop at a particular pharmacy, he argues, because of the service they get. 

Turning the floating customers into loyal ones is key to increasing profits. 

How is that done? By making sure the customer becomes your number one fan he says.

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