Articles tagged "Customer Relationships"
We've heard over and over "Add value for your customers!" But what does that mean?
According to Webster's Dictionary, VALUE means "Monetary or material worth". Therefore, "Add value for your customers" must mean we have to add some thing (product, service, or other benefit) that adds tangible monetary or material gain for our customers. How do we do that? We need to find out what is valuable - and not merely valued - by our customers.
There's a big difference between providing something that is valuable and something that is valued. Again, according to Webster's Dictionary, VALUABLE means "1. Of high monetary or material value 2. Of great importance, utility, or service". VALUED, on the other hand, means "Highly esteemed". Both terms are impressive. However valuable products, services, and information are what keep customers coming back to you time and again. Valuable items create some type of monetary or material gain for your customers; whereas, a "valued" item is appreciated by your customers, but may not be important enough to them to pay for it. That's the distinction. Do you want to get paid for what you add or do you just want to be appreciated?
To determine how valuable your products, services, and information are to your customers, ask them. What elements of your service do they find valuable? What aspects make their jobs easier, less time-consuming, or more profitable? What would make their jobs even easier, less time-consuming, or more profitable? What do you provide they like, but don't really need? What do they find wasteful or unnecessary? How does the value of your products or services compare to others?
Ask your customers for the answers. They'll tell you. Then you'll know how to add value, because you'll know what is valuable.
Copyright MMIII - Liz Weber, CMC, CSP - Weber Business Services, LLC – www.WBSLLC.com +1.717.597.8890
Liz supports clients with strategic and succession planning, as well as leadership training and executive coaching. Learn more about Liz on LinkedIn!
When asked what helped him become the great hockey player he was, Wayne Gretzky infamously replied, “I go where the puck is going to be.” Because of that simple philosophy, he would be at the right place at the right time; he’d get the puck and score. When he retired in 1999, Gretzky had scored 2857 career points. Not bad for just anticipating where the action is going to be.
That same practice is crucial for us in business. We've got to constantly ask ourselves, “Where are our customers going to be in six, nine, twelve, eighteen or more months? What do we need to do NOW to position ourselves to meet their future needs?”
If we start planning NOW to meet our customers’ future needs, who will they want to work with six, nine or twelve months from now? Us of course! We will have the products or services ready and available to meet their needs. We won't have to scramble to develop the products they want. We can provide what they need when they need it.
This simple strategy has another benefit. It “forces” us to constantly communicate with and monitor our customers. We need to regularly communicate with them to learn what THEIR forecasts are indicating. We need to watch THEIR industries. This tight communication pattern enables us to build strong relationships and partnerships with our customers. In times when so many other organizations can provide basically the same products or services we do, we've got to take advantage of EVERY opportunity to build a relationship with our customers. We need to help THEM grow their businesses. We all know, if we can help them grow – we'll help ourselves grow well.
So, it’s time to ask ourselves, “Where are our customers going to be in 12, 24, or 36 months from now and are we ready?”
Copyright MMII Liz Weber, CMC, CSP - Weber Business Services, LLC.
I experienced some of the best customer service you can receive yesterday. I was turned away.
I had met with a web site designer to talk about redesigning and upgrading my websites. We discussed the shopping cart and site hosting services I currently use and need. We compared them to what his company offered, and he simply said, “Stick with what you've got. You've got a good system in place. We can’t improve on it.”
He didn't belittle my current providers or try to sway me into signing up with his company. He provided good insights into possible new site designs; we discussed ways to integrate my current infrastructure with the new designs; but he eliminated the full-package deal from the conversation. He provided honest guidance on integration, efficiency, and cost-savings.
The experience made such an impact because he made it easy for me to understand what his company’s strengths and limitations were. He didn't try to over-sell his company’s capabilities. He didn't try to sell me something that wasn't right for my company. He made it easy for me to make good decisions. He listened to what I needed, wanted, and identified the best mix of services to meet my company’s needs – not his. He was willing to forego a sale to ensure my company got what it really needed.
Because of his service, he didn’t make a full-package sale. However, he did earn my respect. Because of that, he'll get my business in the future, and he’ll get my referrals. He turned me away, but I'll turn people on to him.
Copyright MMIII Liz Weber, CMC, CSP - Weber Business Services, LLC.
What do you think of when you hear "Extraordinary Customer Service?" For most business owners or managers, when we hear those three words we immediately think of costly endeavors to win over or win back customers. We envision things such as large-scale construction projects to make our sales floors more "customer friendly," intensive staff training on "Building Customer Relationships," or intricately-designed customer loyalty programs to get our customers to buy repeatedly from us. Given these immediate assumptions about "Extraordinary Customer Service" most of us think, "We're not a huge organization. We can't afford those kinds of undertakings. Extraordinary service basically means "perfection" anyway and that's an impossibility. Why push staff to reach for the impossible? Most of our customers think we're fine the way we are." This thought process ends any further push for Extraordinary Customer Service. We accept our organization's standard of "Ordinary Customer Service" as good enough.
Is that bad?
No. But it's also not helping our employees learn to think about service in a deeper way that will benefit each and every customer. By better servicing our customers, we by default increase their loyalty and often alleviate the need for the more expensive customer enhancements we initially thought of. So how do we provide Extraordinary Customer Service? Look at it for what it really is: "Extraordinary" is simply "Extra Ordinary" Customer Service. Simply do more of the basics when it's appropriate.
Let me share an example: This past Saturday afternoon, while putting air in one of our car's tires, the valve stem broke. My husband changed the tire, but noticed that our spare tire wasn't fitting quite right. So we drove to a nearby tire and muffler repair store to see if they could fix the valve stem. However, it was 3:05PM and they had closed at 3:00PM. The employees were all walking to their cars as was one of the managers. Not really anticipating any help, my husband asked the manager if there might be some chance he could help us. We were 20 miles from home and we didn't want to risk the spare tire not holding tight. Without hesitation, the manager said, "Absolutely." My husband and I looked at each other in shock and thought, “Wow.” Within 15 minutes he had fixed our tire and helped change out the spare. When we tried to pay him, he said "No charge today. We're closed." Then he smiled and walked away. Extraordinary.
What Extra Ordinary Service can your staff provide customers?
Can your staff greet each customer they pass on their way to the break room? Could staff call customers with interim updates on the project status just to ease their minds? What would happen if staff started talking to customers instead of to each other when they were "servicing" customers? What little things can staff do that cause your customers to think "Wow"?
Extraordinary Service isn't just something large organizations can provide. It’s something every organization should provide.
Copyright MMVII - Liz Weber, CMC, CSP - Weber Business Services, LLC – www.WBSLLC.com +1.717.597.8890
Liz supports clients with strategic and succession planning, as well as leadership training and executive coaching.