Customer Relations & Management

Customer Relations & Management

Do you have customers or do you have clients? What’s the difference? A “customer” is a one-time interaction – a “client” is an on-going relationship. So, do you have “customers” or “clients”?

In today’s fast-paced world many instructors have customers – those who come to purchase a one-time service. In this model “customers” are one-time interactions – they don’t come back.

In the “client” model we want to see the “customer” return. It creates relationships, trust, and a “reason” to return.

In the firearms training world, many instructors focus on the “customer” – get the customer! Get the Customer! Once they get the customer they provide shoddy instruction because they want to go and get the next customer.

OK, get that customer. Buy groceries for the week, pay rent, pay bills. What are you doing next week? Getting customers! Does that program make sense? Grabbing customers means they are customers that will likely never return – you have to always gain new customers to pay bills. What if you have a bad week? No new customers? How do you pay bills? Do you find yourself saying “If I only had another customer?”

Level 1 Firearms Training does not chase “customers”; we cultivate “clients”, turning everyone we meet into a friend while creating meaningful relationships. How do we create clients and build relationships? By offering more than a product, being sensitive to our client’s needs and being a friend. How do we do that? Leveraging modern technologies and services – providing complete solutions for the company and the client.

Clients call us all the time. For example: “Hey, this is John” (John who?) I want to register my daughter in your next class”. “Hey John, give me a minute – I’ll call you right back, what’s your number?” “It’s XXX”. “Thanks! Give me a minute”.

Unbeknown to John, we are pulling his phone number in our Customer Relations database. BANG! It’s John from Louisiana – he attended our CCW class in July, 2000. He’s got two kids, married 10 years, and has a grandchild on the way. It’s now 2010 – I’m sure the grandchild has been born, we’re assuming he’s still married and we’re ready to return the call.

“Hey John, sorry for the delay. How’s Mary? How’s the kids? Been a while since we’ve chatted. Hey! Did you have a boy or a girl? What did you name him/her? Why that name? I’m sure you are proud. What about…”

John is not a customer, he’s a client and a friend. It’s been years since we have talked. We’re sure life has changed for John. But instead of saying “She can sign up for this next class” when he called, we’ve actually called him back and talked to him about important things in his life while making an appointment for his daughter. We have now reconnected. I’m not “Dave” from Level 1 Firearms Training, I’m just “Dave”; his “buddy” in the firearms business.

Are you up for delivering this level of service? It’s work, real work – it’s not easy – it requires real effort. You and your staff should always be working relationships. If “John” calls and you take the call, can you say “Hey John, Dave told me about Mike (the grandchild); how’s his little league placing after the finals”? You now add notes into John’s account. The next time John calls, you have updated information.

Creating relationships is about caring for your client. Creating relationships is knowing the client and his needs. You can’t solve a one-time issue or provide a one-time solution and call that a relationship. You can’t ignore the children, not solve an issue, and call that a relationship. Creating a relationship creates a trust and a bond that builds client loyalty.

So how about it? Do you want to create a customer for today or a client for a lifetime?

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