A few years ago I visited Seattle for a two day consulting gig. I was meeting a long time client and we were discussing his Unique Selling Point and why his customers should buy from him versus his competitor. During this discussion, he began to get uncomfortable with my questions. I quickly found out that he didn’t offer a guarantee, his prices were higher than competitors, and he refused to take orders by phone. When I asked him about shipping services and disputes over broken products or late arrivals, he shared that in most cases, it would be the customer’s responsibility to pay for returns and replacements.
“So why should people buy from you versus your competitors then?”, I asked pointedly. His answer nearly made me laugh out loud.
“Matt, they buy from us because we LOVE them.” The truth was, they loved receiving their customers’ dollars. In today’s post, I’ll share with you 3 ways to tell if you love your customers.
1. Do I REALLY Listen to My Customers?
It might sound crazy, but I meet business owners all the time who don’t really live where their customers live. Slowly, over time, they remove themselves from their customers and come to resent them. During customer meetings, these entrepreneurs can talk so loud and be so arrogant that the customer can’t get a peep in otherwise. Yes, the entrepreneur has worked hard and is probably an expert, but is he delivering what the customer really wants? Every business owner must spend time with their customers and do something that is incredibly hard for entrepreneurs to do! They MUST LISTEN!
Listening means taking surveys, getting feedback, and hearing complaints about what is bad. It means hand holding, babysitting, and going the extra mile for them. When business owners immerse themselves in their customer’s lives, the innovations required to make things better becomes crystal clear.
2. Do I have a Plan for When Things Go Bad?
Most business owners don’t systematize their customer service policies. They either ignore the complaints or retaliate with accusations. Worse yet, most larger corporations don’t empower managers to actually solve problems. Look at the reviews online for any business and you’ll see someone complaining about how they were treated. This is generally because the company hasn’t thought through the possible complaints and how they could resolve them.
Normally, the number one thing a business owner says is that they “can’t afford” to give refunds. Listen, I understand. We can’t afford to give refunds on some of the services we offer either. However, as a business owner I have to have a “customer service” policy in place on how I reply to these people and the options I give. It is also CRITICALLY important that BEFORE A CONTRACT IS SIGNED, you be critically clear on the details of the transaction. When you have clarity before a transaction and a back-up plan in place that solves problems, you’ll be better prepared to serve your customers. It takes the stress away from the relationships and provides solutions.
Am I Committed to them for Life?
No, you’re not married to your customers, but that is exactly how you should treat them. You should be thinking about how you’ll “WOO” them from your very 1st date. You want them for life, not just one sale. Even if the transaction happens only once every ten years, they still are an extremely valuable asset to your company. Why? It is called Lifetime Customer Value. It is never about how much money they spend today, but all about how much they’ll spend over their lifetime. Raving Fan customers will also become advocates for you and refer others to your business.
If you really love your customers, you’ll plan out all communication for them. From the first date until their last breath, you should know exactly what you’ll say. It is called Marketing Automation and it means you simply have a plan in place for how you’ll communicate with them before and after the sale.
Following these principles isn’t easy. Sometimes customers are a pain in the butt and don’t understand business. For example, you could sit down to check your email and have two customer messages in your inbox. The bad customer buys a product and breaks it because he didn’t read the manual. He simply isn’t using it correctly and then demands a refund for a broken product. The good customer sends a polite email thanking you for such a detailed manual and how thrilled he is with your business. He raves about how great it works. Remember, it is the same product, but two different types of customers.
If it were easy, everyone would be an entrepreneur. Everyone would be rich. But it isn’t easy. It takes work, planning, and a compassion for your customers.
Comments or Questions – Based upon these 3 questions, how would you rate your business? How would you rate the companies you do business with every day? I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment below.