Donna Probes: Use the SCORE model in your business | Business

The Traverse City chapter by SCORE was named # 1 in the nation for customer loyalty in nearly 250 chapters. I’ve thought about it and wondered if the SCORE business model might apply to a small business owner.

Customer loyalty is all about building relationships. The answer I came up with is “Yes!”. The model used for SCORE, a voluntary, non-profit organization, can be used in the profit sector.

Every successful company has to figure out how to find and retain customers. Customer relationships, satisfaction and customer loyalty are the key.

So let’s look at how the Traverse City SCORE chapter managed to achieve this prestigious award, and see how the methods can be applied to commercial business.

First of all, SCORE has a team of volunteers who stick to the goal of responding immediately to every request. A systematic approach that includes listening and evaluating is used from the start. Once the specific needs of the client are established, efforts will be made to match those needs to a mentor with compatible skills.

Every SCORE mentor is trained to use a consistent customer loyalty approach when mentoring. It involves five steps: listening carefully to the client’s circumstances, asking questions to determine the client’s needs, evaluating and analyzing the best course of action, teaching and offering resources, and finally encouraging to build trust.

Each customer is given the opportunity for follow-up care and is invited to provide feedback and an assessment of their experience. These ratings and comments are continuously monitored to improve the experience of future customers. Monthly meetings with SCORE mentors include customer feedback and ongoing training.

So what’s the point of looking at this model? First of all, business owners need to respond to customer inquiries immediately. The old saying “slumber, you lose” certainly applies here. The frontline sales force needs to be trained to improve the quality of the customer, adapt to their needs, and tailor them to the appropriate goods or services.

Every employee should be trained to use a consistent engagement process. This consistency will be a major driver of the company’s success.

The sale goes beyond closing the deal and taking the money. Customer / customer loyalty involves an ongoing relationship that includes careful listening, trust, confidence, consistent delivery, and continuous improvement. This will keep customers coming back time and time again.

Donna Probes, MBA, was a small business owner for 10 years. She has left the Traverse City Chamber of Commerce and works as a SCORE mentor and professional musician. For information on SCORE, visit

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