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PORTER: How to please gorilla customers

Gorilla customers. Key customers. Large accounts. You know, that special group of customers you have to spend extra time on servicing.

Whatever you call them, they all require a different kind of service, and there are reasons for it.

Gorilla customers are what I call these folks, and every business has them. Large accounts that bring in an inordinate amount of revenue every year — maybe you have heard the old saying that 20 percent of your customers usually bring you 80 percent of your total revenues.

Or perhaps you have customers who are leaders in their industry niche and influence other potential customers you might choose to pursue. Here are a few tips for dealing with those customers:

• Break out your gorilla customers with analytics.

If you are going to have special service strategies for these groups, you need to know as much as possible about them. You also should quickly determine what impact they have on your business bottom line – total revenues generated annually, cost of managing these customers and so on.

These folks are different than everyone else, and it takes good analytics to point out the uniquenesses.

If it’s the old “80 – 20” rule, you will be amazed at how much total revenue they bring to the table. Or, as you are pursuing your 2016 sales plan, that industry leader you already have as a happy customer might just help make your year by referring new business from their special niche.

• Assign your gorilla customers to special employee teams.

Over my business career I have found gorilla customers don’t typically go to your Facebook page or other social media when they have a question regarding your products or service.

Nope. They want answers, and they want them right now. And sometimes only your top employees will do.

When I conduct customer experience surveys for my clients, I always make sure to contact their gorilla customers. Those customers almost always have higher service expectations than the average customer and can be extremely critical of a business trying its best to provide great service.

• Prepare to lose a gorilla customer’s business.

One thing I have learned over the years is that gorilla customers are fickle. And even though your company may be doing all the right things to keep them loyal, they may still decide to take their business elsewhere with little warning.

In fact if I were you, I’d count on it.

Again, back to the customer experience research I regularly do, I often get a curious response from even long time gorilla customers. Even though they have a history of saying they are happy with a particular company, when I ask about their intent to continue giving them their business in the future, they reply that they are undecided. It always baffles me, but it’s just the way gorilla customers are.

Always remember there are more gorilla customers out there whose business you can win. And always enjoy the ride while it lasts.

 

William Porter has published books on customer experience and employee engagement and speaks regularly at business schools. Contact him at bpwilliamaporter@gmail.com.

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