The reason your sales and business development outreach isn’t working is attributable to a increasing lack of customer compliance. They are supposed to take your call, listen to your pitch, and by golly – just give you a shot at the order. Everyone gets the same consideration. Everyone gets a chance. These are the rules. Of course if customers followed the rules, you would always win because you have better people, products, and a nifty catchphrase.
It’s not enough to expect better for and of yourself, you should anticipate more from your customers. I call this Getting Ahead of Customer Expectations. Indeed, you should be highly invested in anticipating what they will do next, what their expectations are, and how you are going to fulfill them. The fundamental mistake most small businesses make is believing that the product and business model they have provided is adequate for customers needs, and that customer demand can be altered through marketing and advertising. It’s rather arrogant when you think about it. As small business owners, we are all inherently flawed and to presume that the customer should adapt to how we want to do things is insane. Yet, customers make accommodations all the time for poor business models thereby reinforcing these false assumptions. Getting ahead of customer expectations is the process of thinking like a customer, for the customer. This is nothing new, but small businesses are the least equipped to embark on an unbiased exploration of consumer perspective. Nonetheless, our success depends upon understanding how buyers think, which means unlearning that what we want to do for customers is somehow more important compared to what they expect or […]
Dear Customer, My apologies on behalf of myself and our team for delivering a great job. We have failed to exceed your expectations and for that we are truly sorry. I am refunding 10% of your bill, which represents the premium for the value proposition that you paid for in good faith, but did not receive. -Your Humble Supplier Based on what I hear many owners and executives say about their products and services, the above letter needs to go out to customers everywhere. I visit dozens of businesses and speak with scores of business owners every year, and most honestly believe that they are delivering best in class results to their clients. In their defense, on any given day someone in their firm does something admirable, but that alone does not a great company make. Good people and good companies have the same qualities through and through. When you slice one up, each piece is full of pure awesomeness, which is why some companies really are worth more than others. Unfortunately too many firms wrongly believe they are that great through and through and therefore diminish the value of superlatives with every presentation, pitch, or promotion. Admit it, if […]
Tom explains how defining your business in customer terms will help you better match your products and services to customer needs.
I have been blogging lately on Customer Service topics, and I have to say I am disappointed that so many organizations misread what’s really important to their clients. I am sure I am no different – we all are too close to our own businesses to see the obvious. The saga of my search for a Photographer continued, with a happy ending. There are three important lessons for hiring a professional that I reaffirmed in this process: First, when seeking (or giving) a referral, consider the source. Second, trust your instincts. Third, there’s no substitute for loving what you do. A few weeks ago I blogged about my search for a photographer and how one well-recommended person could have easily won my business for a much higher fee by doing three simple things that cost no money at all. So, my search continued. I won’t bore you with the details, but I finally contacted the photographer that was recommended by a marketing professional (instead of my friend who recently had wedding portraits done). I felt he would be expensive and I was right – but it was SO worth it. There is a difference between being expensive and overpriced. The […]
As you read this, your company is experiencing a Customer Service Failure that neither you nor the person handling the problem is even aware of. That’s the hard part about maintaining customer satisfaction is that most representatives don’t know when they are facing a customer that is a victim of your failure. Customer Service failures are sometimes hard to spot. My example is my rental car company. I rent from one of the biggies (ok, it’s Avis) and have for years. I am very loyal – though it’s only because my other traveler friends say their rental car companies are just as bad – so why switch? That is a poor testimonial to customer service right there. My story though is the typical car rental experience. I am one of those people that is supposed to land at the airport and go straight to my car, show my driver’s license at the gate and off I go. To know which car I should take, I get an email (maybe 10% of the time) with its location or I check a big display that has my name and the location of my car (25% of the time). The other two-thirds of […]
I just tried to hire a photographer. She was recommended by a friend and her website and Facebook page didn’t suck, so I reached out. I sent an email using the ‘info@…” on the website and received thoughtful a reply the next day (with no signature line). After a short exchange we set a time for a phone call. So far so good. At the appointed time, I waited a good ten minutes for her call. I checked her email – no phone number. But using a phone number buried on her website I got a recording that said – get this: the Mailbox was full. Apparently I accidentally dialed a previous decade. Not so good anymore. So, I sent a polite email that triggered a call. She apologized and said a shoot had run long and let me know that she needed to fix her website and disconnect the old phone number I had called…wait, what? You are telling me this in the first ten seconds that you don’t know how to maintain your website, that you have a phone number that doesn’t work, and you have done nothing about it? Do go on. The photographer’s contribution to the […]