If your customers are not listening it is not their fault! It is your fault… you are not communicating in a way that they can hear your message.
Your sales presentations/offers and so forth are probably all wrong. Read on...
People have problems/hurts/needs that they want sorted out. You need to know what they are. Ask questions, shut up and listen to the answers.
Customers are only interested in how you can help them relieve the pain or get more pleasure.
People will buy from you if you are able to cut to the chase. Tell them what they will get… Don’t bore them. Be precise.
People don’t buy from you for what you do but for what your product or service will do for them (probably after you are gone). How will they be better off after you have gone?
Customers want you to make it absolutely clear what they will get by buying from you. Tell them how you will make things better for them.
Customers love it when you make it clear that you can deliver. So tell them: “We can do that” and give them some brief proofs or examples.
Customers love it when you shut up.
What we expect governs how we react. A child may be disappointed with their present if it’s not the one they expected. Another child, with lower expectations, might be delighted with the same toy.
In business, setting the expectations of customers, staff and suppliers is critical. Often, they will judge you not against an absolute standard, but against what they expect. For instance, the expectations on phoning an overseas call centre can be very low - so it may be relatively easy to please a caller. On the other hand, a visit to The Ritz may be eagerly anticipated, and easily disappointed. Which is why following a recent visit I shall never be returning there again.
We have to work hard to set expectations, but they must be reasonable and the cost must work too. Miss this part out and we will have big problems. So we mustn’t deliver a Tata Motors People’s Car if we charge for a Rolls Royce. Unfortunately, it’s more common for customers to expect a Rolls when they have paid for a Tata. That’s life, but it’s down to us to educate them.
I recently dropped off an outboard motor for a service. Before they would accept it, the company told me it would be at least three weeks before they did the job. It’s a long time, but I’m not angry that I’m still waiting, because they set my expectations correctly up front.
After simple delivery, setting expectations is the most important business tool for nurturing good relations with staff, suppliers and customers. Too bad it’s not talked about more.
You might perceive businesses’ use of merchandise, also known as promotional gifts, to be one of two things: a desperate ploy by large corporates to con their customers into buying even more stuff they don’t need, or a tacky technique used by fledgling small businesses that don’t know any better. But although it can often be used for the wrong reasons, there is in fact a third way to use it; as a successful, targeted marketing campaign to build customer loyalty, drive more people to your website or inspire new customers to make a purchase.
Speaking to sales expert Andy Preston of Outstanding Results for a recent Small Business Update feature, I found out that some firms have ditched the cheap stationery and garish wall calendars for an altogether more thoughtful variety of merchandise. He told me about an outdoor clothing company that once produced a compass displaying its name and the words ‘helping you find your way to the best clothing supplier’. Their existing customers might already have a compass – hardy, all-weather hikers that they are - but the point is that they will feel valued by that business because it has actually presented them with something that is not only in tune with their interests but could also come in handy in the future. As the item is relevant and quirky, it is also likely to attract potential new customers to find out more about the business.
It might sound more costly, but if you sample small quantities of different types of merchandise and measure the outcome, you could be surprised by the difference in the return you get for each. Investing a bit of effort and money in an unusual gift for a smaller group of recipients is likely to give you a far better return than mass producing a luminous-coloured biro or an ugly soft toy, neither of which would add much to people’s lives or to their opinion of you.
Think about your industry and your target or current audience, and match your merchandise to the message you want to communicate and the customer’s interests or needs. It doesn’t have to be complicated - if you run a bar, printing beer mats instead of bog-standard flyers could do the trick, and if you’re a florist a packet of seeds or a flower pot might appeal. With a bit of imagination, merchandise can be a rewarding way of boosting your business, however tight your budget.
Marketing? Isn’t that a huge area to tackle? Sure, but not if you break it down into bite-size chunks. So after getting to grips with advertising, we turned our thoughts to another vital topic, customer care.
We’re all customers and know that excellent customer care is something that makes a business stand out. In fact, customer care is at the heart of all successful companies as it can help you develop a loyal customer base and improve relationships with your customers.
Easy to say — but where do you start as a small business? On the Marketing Donut we explain — without the jargon — what customer care actually is and how to get a handle on it.
We outline the different areas that make up customer service and give suggestions on how to communicate with your customers, understand them, and improve your customer service and handling their complaints. Keep communicating with them so you can respond as their needs change and reward them for their loyalty which gives you the opportunity to sell more to them.
With the help of our high-profile experts, such as Derek Williams, initiator of the WOW Awards, and Darren Young of the Customer Service Network, we provide you with sound advice and various tools to crack this vital part of running a business.
Customer care sounds easy now, doesn’t it? Find out what you’re already doing right and where you can improve on 20 April, the launch date of the Marketing Donut.
Companies lose customers because they go elsewhere. And the reason that customers go elsewhere is that the people who serve them are indifferent to their needs. Here are ten ways to keep your customers happy.
Understand what people want - You must keep asking questions of yourself: ‘What’s the unmet need...?’ ‘How are we doing...?’, ‘How can we do better…?’
Engage and interact with your customers - Treat them how you would like to be treated yourself.
Real relationships blow away the institutional hype - Consumers are fed up with mass-produced mediocrity.
Infect your customers with your enthusiasm.
Infect your staff with your enthusiasm.
Create memorable ‘wow!’ encounters that inspire customers to spread the ‘legend’ to others.
Forget about selling - Customers hate to be ‘sold at’ but they love to buy.
Make everything simple and easy to understand for your customers and for yourselves.
Create a culture where people find real pleasure in giving service to others.
What customers value most is attention, dependability, promptness and competence. Never forget it.
Normally I am happy with my bank. They provide an efficient service, whether online, on the phone or by way of weekly texts showing my balance.
This week, however, I have not been so impressed.
I was on the school run when I received a text. Since my curiosity was greater than my fear of being caught, I risked an illicit glance at the message at the next set of traffic lights. I saw a bundle of numbers, beginning with 25 and ending with DR. Mystified, I looked again. It stated I was £25,742 overdrawn. I stalled the car.
Before anyone thinks the contrary, this is not normal behaviour on my account, which rarely reaches a four figure sum. I am almost never overdrawn. Something was up.
I raced back home and went online. Sure enough, there were three huge amounts debited to my account that day. I called the bank. They calmly assured me that those debits had been marked as fraudulent and would be re-credited to me.
So, I am not out of pocket and my account is functioning in its normal, unspectacular way. But, if they knew about the fraud, why did they let the text go skimming through the ether to hit me between the eyes at the lights? Why don’t they have an automatic alert that requires someone to call and check what’s happening?
However impressive the technology is, real customer service requires the human touch.