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    ‘Customer is not an outsider in your business — he is part of it’

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    Call it a customer service. Consumers are expected to rein in spending this year, and the retail climate favors big-box stores that can offer bargains. But because small retailers can’t win price wars, independent retailers need to leverage their biggest advantage over the chains: personal relationships with customers and the ability to deliver superior service.

    In whatever market they’re targeting, small retailers need to court their best customers this winter. During the next two months they need to maximize the one-on-one personal relationships that they have with customers. That is the secret weapon that small independents have against big national chains. “If I’m savvy and communicate with my customers well, I can draw loyal customers into my store before they go into the national chains.”

    A customer’s top ten sales and customer service requirements:

    1. Treat me with respect. I am a customer, not an account number.
    2. Follow through with your commitments.
    3. Communicate with me about both the good and the bad.
    4. Talk to me without interruption.
    5. Answer the phone quickly.
    6. Provide alternatives when we have a problem.
    7. Allow me to talk to somebody in authority when there is a problem.
    8. Clearly state what I should expect from you.
    9. Know everything about your products and services.
    10. Be a customer advocate.
    11. A customer is the most important visitor on your premises. He is not dependent on you — you are dependent on him. He is not an outsider in your business — he is part of it. You are not doing him a favor by serving him — he is doing you a favor by giving you the opportunity to do so.