Fight the “commoditization” of your business & increase its value to your customer
A Different Perspective
By Leslie R. Wolff, A Marketing Curmudgeon
In an increasingly competitive marketplace it is becoming more difficult to stand out from the competition. What do you do when there exists a 5P’s environment? What are the 5P’s? When a customer’s Perception is that your Product, Price and Performance are on a Parity level with your competition. This is the time to take the step to challenge how you think about your customer. What you learn from this exercise could differentiate your firm from the competition in the eyes of your customer. Pay attention because you need to become an expert in Customer Service. It can be a very profitable situation for you.
Do you know the #1 reason customers leave vendors? It is a feeling of indifference. Lack of concern, lack of attention to their needs, lack of appreciation for their business. In a recent survey this “indifference” was listed 68% of the time as the main reason for customer dissatisfaction. One person’s problem can be another person’s gold mine, especially for the smart marketer. Ask yourself (and your staff) these questions —
Do you talk to your customers?
“A Customer is not dependent on us …. we are dependent on him.”*
The first place you want to go is to your existing client base to develop the right customer service approach. Tell them you take customer service very seriously and you would like to ask all your customers these few questions in order to improve your level of customer service.
- What do they feel are the strengths of the service you provide?
- What do they feel are your weaknesses?
- What improvements would be most important to them?
- What special services could you offer that might help their particular situation?
- What are the three most important things they do in servicing their customers?
How do they rate the following (on a 1-10 scale):
- Your sales force professionalism?
- How your staff answers the phone?
- Handling of complaints?
- Difficulty of doing business with you?
- Quality of your products or services?
- Level of response time to questions or requests?
- Level of attention received?
… and ask what questions you should be asking and haven’t thought of.
Do you know the cost difference between keeping the customers you have versus pursuing new ones?
It cost 5 times as much to gain a new customer as it does to keep the one you have and 50 times as much to get back a customer you have lost.
Are you making the 80/20 rule work in your business?
In most businesses 80 percent of sales come from 20% of their customers, thus it is extremely important to ensure those 20% are happy and satisfied.
How much does it cost you to gain a customer?
Sales calls are expensive, many running in excess of$300. It usually takes more than 7 sales calls to close a sale. So it makes good business practice to work at keeping those “hard-fought-for” clients loyal.
“ A Customer is not an interruption of our work … he is the purpose of it. We are not doing a favor by serving him … he is doing us a favor by giving us the opportunity to do so” *
Have you maximized developing new business referrals from your existing customers?
A satisfied customer will not only help grow a business by their purchases, but they will also be happy to make positive recommendations, if asked and motivated to do so. A customer referral is an endorsement and carries with it substantial weight towards influencing a buying decision. Have salespeople give their customer a “referral list” card every time they are called on and thank them with a small promotional product for filling it out right then and there.
“A Customer is a person who brings us his wants. It is our job to handle them profitably to him and ourselves”*
Do you have an inexpensive plan for keeping your name constantly on front of customers, which will build better relationships?
“Out-of-sight, out-of mind” may sound like a cliché, but then remember a cliché is a “proven wisdom”, that is why they are around and in use for so long. Ask yourself how much is a customer worth to you? Then take that a small percentage of that amount and develop a plan, which will keep your company name in front of the customer year round. Hint: Call in your local promotional products vendor for ideas.
If your customer service is excellent, what are you doing to keep customers and prospects aware of it?
If a prospect’s perception is that product, price and performance are on a parity level, let them know you do have a difference and tout that service “difference” to customers and prospects throughout the year. It is not something to be modest about. Come up with a statement about your customer service, your corporate mission, etc. and use it in all the communication materials that a customer or prospect might receive of be exposed to.
“The magic formula that successful businesses have discovered is to treat customers like guests and employees like people” – Thomas J. Peters
All quotes marked with an (*) were excerpted from a sign posted at the headquarters of L.L. Bean of Freeport Maine.
Leslie R. Wolff is an experienced professional, obviously an outspoken curmudgeon with more than a half century in the marketing arena His mission in his business, speeches and writings is to reestablish a lost factor in business … commonsense! It is the foundation on which Smart Thinking is built. Les is CEO of The Smart Marketing Group, who simply help clients work smarter. He can be reached at 215-334-3432, firstname.lastname@example.org, Skype: Smart Marketing or http://www.smartmarketingroup.com
You can also visit and participate in his Blog www.smartmarketingmoves.com
and his LinkedIn Group – Smart Marketing for Small Business™
His E-Book” Smart Thinking- Vol.-I” is available @www.smashwords.com/books/view/34172