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Are you engaged with your customers?

The cost of winning a new customer can be up to four times or more that of keeping an existing one, depending on the statistics you read.  And, the figure varies widely depending on the nature of the business, explained Professor Merlin Stone, head of research at The Customer Framework consultancy. But the main problem for many small and medium-sized companies is that they simply don’t have enough information about their customers to make the calculation, he adds.

So how much do you know about your customers? In each of the questions that follow, choose the answer which most applies in your business. Then check how you’ve measured up by rating your score, using the key at the bottom.


1 - Does information about customer satisfaction in your company come mostly from:
a) Monitoring the level of repeat orders and lost business from existing customers.
b) Collecting regular feedback from sales and/or service staff on what customers are thinking.
c) Conducting regular surveys of customers to ask for their views.
d) Counting the number of complaints that are made.

2 - Do you collect information about your customers by:
a) Asking customers to complete forms giving their contact details and other information.
b) Logging details of each customer contact in a single database designed for the purpose.
c) Relying on accurate note-taking and staff knowledge of customers.
d) Collecting details in specialised systems for sales, order processing, invoicing and so on. 

3 - When it comes to sharing information about customers around your company, do you:
a) Give staff who need to know access to a range of databases containing different
customer information.
b) Circulate relevant customer information to staff on standard forms or in paper files.
c) Leave individual departments to decide how best to share information with others who need to know.
d) Provide relevant staff with access to a centralised database containing all customer information.

4 - When a customer contacts your company with an inquiry, will they be:
a) Told to call back later as the person they need to deal with is out of the office.
b) Passed to the department that can deal with their inquiry.
c) Directed immediately to a person who has the relevant information available to deal with their inquiry.
d) Invited to acquire information and/or submit a query through the company’s website or in writing.

5 - When handling a customer complaint, will your company:
a) Deal with the complaint on its merits, irrespective of the customer’s past trading history with the business.
b) Resolve the dispute on the basis of the company’s standard terms and conditions.
c) Look at the customer’s past dealings as a way of informing an appropriate response.
d) Ignore the complaint as the moaning Minnie is lucky to be doing business with you anyway.

1. a=3; b=2; c=4; d=1. 2. a=2; b=4; c=1; d=3. 3. a=3;b=2; c=1; d=4. 4. a=1; b=3; c=4; d=2. 5. a=3; b=2; c=4;d=1.
18-20 Congratulations! Your company is geared to provide the kind of customer service that will make it a market leader.
12-17 Keep trying: You’re on the right tracks but you need to work harder to rival the best.
8-11 Must do better. There are big failings in your customer service which you must remedy quickly.
5-7 There is work to be done.


Questionnaire compiled with the help of Professor Merlin Stone, visiting professor at De Montfort,Oxford Brookes and Portsmouth universities