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Updated 16 Jan 2021

Customer service: Your survival kit in tough times

Imagine that you are a business owner and that only 40% of your walk-in customers buy something. Tough economic times and the recent hike in the interest rate may even reduce this percentage. 

Amanda Hamilton, 18 February 2016  Share  0 comments  Print

All the answers to your unique business lifestage questions

Businesses are not only expecting a decline in customers, but also a decline in their disposable income. How can you increase the conversion rate from simply a lead to a loyal returning customer? 

Related: How to keep customers coming back and repurchasing: Developing a back-end

The secret is serve them well

In tough times customers also become tougher: More critical and less forgiving. Therefore, the secret is in outstanding customer service by every person in your business. Focusing on customer service can grow your business in the face of pressing times.

It will however, not only require a mindset and behavioural change. As many a business philosopher has said: “it takes a moment to change, but sustaining it is the challenge.” 

Universal drivers impacting all

There are five universal drivers of customer service that can be applied, regardless of your type of business. People of all walks of life naturally react to these, without being aware of it – and that includes you. It is important to measure the impact of customer service to ensure that it is maintained or improved. 

5 Drivers of customer service 

  1. Senses: This refers to what customers experience with their senses when walking into your business, be it a grocery store, a clothing shop or a dental practice. What they see, hear, smell, taste and feel will determine their contentment and length of stay.
  2. Competence: The skill of the person serving them. Did you train your staff sufficiently to understand their customer’s requests and to give expert advice?
  3. Reliability: Did the people expect a certain product/service in your shop, is it available, what do you guarantee and do you live up to the promise in your advertisement? If customers lose trust in your business, they will not return.
  4. Empathy: If customers feel that staff listen to them and regard their needs as important, they will buy and return because of the relationship.
  5. Time: If a business takes too long to render a service customers will take their money and leave. This includes the time to answer a phone call, to reply to an email, the pace the sales person walks and how user-friendly its website is. 

Related: 8 Keys to award-winning startup customer service 

The difference

Bottom-line is by attending to the drivers of customer service, the business owner can create an environment where the conversion rate from being a lead walking into a shop, to spending money in the shop can easily be doubled. Products can be easily duplicated; quality customer service cannot. This is the ultimate differentiator that will set you apart.  

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About the author

Amanda Hamilton

Dr Amanda Hamilton-Attwell is the founder and Executive Director of Business DNA - a business consultancy. She has extensive experience in small business development. Amanda was awarded fellow status of the Gauteng North Chamber of Commerce and Industry for her contribution to the development of business. The National Youth Development Agency contracted her to conduct research into the factors determining the success of entrepreneurs. She completed an internationally acclaimed programme in business coaching. Contact details: [email protected], 012-346-2600 or

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