by Jake Doll
This is a question that most business owners cannot answer in a definite way. Aren’t customers actually stockholders in a sense? When they buy your product or service they are investing in your business. And, if you do what you should, they keep coming back and buying more! Does a stockholder, in the normal legal sense, do it that easily? I don’t think so. The responsibility of creating this satisfaction rests with you, the business owner.
As owners of businesses, we get so involved in developing new customers that we overlook the ones we have. How many of us can segment our customer base into the categories of an Advocate, Apathetic or Assassin? Or segmenting into A, B or C customers? How much time do you spend engaging, building trust, and creating loyalty with your customers?
To create an Advocate or Promoter you must go beyond the expected level of service. They will go out of their way to tell people about you. And, they are fiercely loyal to a brand. Advocates can easily become your Raving Fans!
Apathetics or Passives are customers that feel you just meet their basic needs. They will not go out of their way to talk about you to others. They tend to remain loyal, but are susceptible to competitor advances. Most customers are in this group. The opportunity for you is to turn these customers into Advocates or Raving Fans.
Assassins or Detractors are easily created by making basic mistakes. These are created by a bad experience or product, and will aggressively seek out a competitor for the product or service. They will also go out of their way to tell others of their bad experience! Remember, bad news travels from ten to twenty more people than good news.
Most companies talk about the value of customer satisfaction, but do not invest in it. They do not train their employees to engage with the customer and create trust. Most employees are not allowed to make decisions that actually help the customer. Has anyone ever dealt with a telephone or cable company problem? Remember, your employees represent your brand!
Data has also shown that there is a direct correlation of Return on Investment (ROI) to Customer Satisfaction Initiative (CSI). Look at how Wal-Mart is doing in this recession. And a few years ago, Staples was losing their position in office supplies. They listened to their customers, made the changes in product and stores, and have recovered a top spot in office supplies.
Talk and interact with your customers on a regular basis. Find out what they like or dislike about things, not just your product or service. How do they buy, what stores do they like and why? Where do your customers live, work, their positions, etc.? Train your employees. Don’t over promise and under deliver – that creates Assassins!
According to McKinsey & Company, a national research firm, the current recession is changing the way people think about their buying practices. 90% of people are belt tightening at some level, with 33% doing it significantly. Main reasons for the belt tightening are 45% are forced to, and 55% are being cautious. The majority of people are paying down debt and saving more. The Personal-Savings Rate in March, 2009 was 5.7% of disposable income. The rate one year earlier was 0%! In post WWII it was 9%.
How will all of this affect acquiring and keeping customers, intensifying relationships, or improving service to the customer? These changes in your customer’s thinking will have an affect on your business activities, especially marketing and sales. Customer Satisfaction will become more critical in the future; will you be ready?
Sandol & Associates
Jake Doll is the Principal of Sandol, with over 40 years of experience helping business owners Discover, Change, and Grow while creating increased Value in their businesses. Whether your need is encouragement, advice, or an interim executive, Jake will help you create positive results. Learn more at www.sandol.com.