Archive for the 'Customer Service' Category
An acquaintance of mine runs a very successful business; she does all her banking – personal and business – with a local financial institution where she has been a customer for over 10 years. This company is well known for its extensive marketing program that points out that they are local and their primary aim is to support the local community with great products and services. Several months back she approached them about getting a mortgage and then she waited and waited and waited. After 4 months of being asked for more paperwork, talking to different people and being told they ‘were working on it’, she walked across the street to the competition where they gave her the mortgage she wanted in less than an hour. The rest of her banking business followed soon after. Plus she has shared this story with other business professionals, which has prompted several of them to switch banks as well.
The reason I am telling this story is that as a business owner you have to ask yourself: Does your customer service deliver on the experience your marketing promises? If you create a certain expectation of quality, customer service or product, customers will expect you to deliver on it. If you don’t, you will piss off customers. And they will tell others. This particular local financial institution has a terrible reputation when it comes to business banking. They spend a lot of money advertising their business banking program but they don’t deliver.
There is no point in spending a ton of money on marketing unless you make sure you deliver on what you promise. If you don’t meet customer expectations, they will tell others and they will move over to the competition.
A lot of businesses forget that their repeat customers are some of the most important. Repeat customers, who make purchases as part of their routine, may now be changing those routines as the economy slows. As their routines change, customers may not be purchasing from you as often or maybe not at all. Entrepreneur Magazine has a new article that highlights 5 techniques to keep repeat customers, including reinforcing your value and paying attention to customer feedback. Read the article here.
How important is it to keep current customers happy and satisfied with their products? Very. While I was riding on BC Ferries this weekend, I was working on my pink Apple Computer and was approached by a worker who asked me if she should buy a Mac or PC laptop. I suggested she buy a Mac, not only because I was satisfied with the product, but also because of the great customer service that I continually receive if I don’t understand something. The worker walked away convinced Mac was the way to go. Mac just received a new consumer with little effort on their part. Happy customers are the best way to sell your products, they get the word out for free.
The latest edition of Make It Business just came out and the whole issue is devoted to retail success, including great articles on how smaller retailers can be successful.
My column points out 3 common mistakes I see retailers, large and small, commit often.
- Making a poor first impression with customers â€“ people make up their mind in 8 seconds about whether they will spend money in your store.
- Believing that you just hang out your shingle and they will come â€“ great merchandise is not enough; you need to build visibility.
- Put all your focus on attracting new customers and ignore existing ones.
Employee Attitude: What a Difference It Makes!
I recently flew down to LA on business and took an American Airlines SkyWest flight. This was my first time flying with SkyWest and I was impressed. The flight crew was friendly, smiling and very welcoming. They helped passengers with their luggage, guided people to their seats and talked to people during the flight about things other than safety drills, seat position and beverage service. They made the flight a great experience; a far cry from the nasty arrogant attitude I generally encounter on my usual carrier. Kudos to SkyWest â€“ that is a company that cares about its customers!
The way your staff treats customers directly impacts your bottom line. What kind of experience are your customers having when they do business with you? This article on the Customer Service Point site discusses 8 Keys to Good Customer Service that will help your company ensure your customers are content.
This article originally appeared in The Office Journal earlier this month. I was inspired to write it following innumerable frustrating buyer experiences.
Sales Pitch: A car dealership for women? It’s about time.
I visited a new car dealership recently called Clutch â€“ not because I was looking for a car, but because I was looking for an experience. One of the most important parts of running my business is keeping on top of trends and Clutch is looking to capitalize on a big one: the female consumer.
The brainchild of co-owners Mike Wood and Karen Jamison, Clutch is out to change womenâ€™s experiences when it comes to buying a car. And itâ€™s about time; women purchase at least 60 percent of the new cars sold today. Recognizing the power of the purse and the fact that nearly every woman has a horror story about her experiences buying a car, the mandate at Clutch is, â€œWe have a better way to sell you a car and a way youâ€™ll actually enjoy.â€
I wanted to see if they could deliver on that promise. My experience buying a car last year left me cold. The salesmen were pushy and rarely welcomed my questions. They spent a lot of time talking to my husband even though I was the buyer.
The first thing that struck me when I walked into Clutch were the stunning floral arrangements; those, plus the modern lighting, music, Italian tile floors and beautiful furniture, made it seem comfortable and welcoming. There was none of that feeling of walking into a pool of piranhas that I usually get when I enter a typical car dealership.
Clutch recognizes the buying power of women in todayâ€™s economy. More than 80 percent of consumer-spending decisions are made by women; they decide how the money is spent for the majority of households in North America. And weâ€™re not just talking about household items like clothing or groceries. Those big-ticket items like electronics and cars? Women are buying most of them.
Surprised? Best Buy certainly was, when its in-store study uncovered that while men were the majority of shoppers in its stores, most purchases were made by women. Men visited the store more often to browse the newest gadgets, but when women came into a store, they had done their homework and made a purchase.
Selling to women has a different set of rules than selling to men. There are real differences between the sexes in the way they communicate, react, listen, shop, and make decisions. Women put a lot of emphasis on building relationships and information-gathering. So given the size of this market, what are businesses doing differently to catch the eye and ear of women?
Clutch has done its homework and offers strategies on how to catch the attention and the wallets of women.
1. Pay attention to your environment. Women want a pleasurable shopping experience. If youâ€™re successful at creating a clean, warm ambiance, you will be more successful at drawing women to your business.
2. Realize women buy with their head. Women look to make educated decisions before they buy. They ask a lot of questions to gather information; women buy on the details, rather than just price, as most people assume.
3. Recognize relationships are valuable currency. Women value relationships; they will trust you if they feel your business is focused on building a long-term relationship, rather than just making a sale. Not only will you get their money, but women use word-of-mouth referrals far more than men. Eighty-five percent of business at Clutch comes from referrals.
4. Donâ€™t push to make the sale. Women will see that tactic and write you off. A woman will buy once she is satisfied she is making the best decision. Answer all her questions, listen carefully to what she is saying, show respect and follow-up â€“ all these are more effective for closing a sale.
Is your business focused on how to sell effectively to women? Are you doing everything within your power to tap into this lucrative market? I tell my clients that by paying attention to these details they will attract more customers â€“ male and female. Everyone likes great service. The payoff to businesses who give it? More repeat business and a stronger bottom line.