Right up there with “write epic content” and “be awesome”, you probably hear or read something every day that reminds you to “provide value to customers.” But what does that mean? It may or may not be price, service, experience or anything else.
If you’re in a service business you know “those days”. You know that sometimes you’re off your game and don’t deliver your best to customers. But that isn’t the totality of you. Before we spew out snark for bad service, let’s take a kinder approach.
Just last week I wrote about why internet marketing must die – not because it has no value but because we can put too much value on it at the expense of our real-world relationships with customers. So I was delighted to have a conversation with one of our long time customers about a similar topic – and whether or not he should be selling his products online. His take? He stands firm in his conviction that ecommerce isn’t for him. Here’s why – and how he has put people first, even in the face of tempting technology. It’s a great lesson in doing business with customers and not just computers.
When my husband and I started our business in 1999, we had one credit card, two pizza boxes and a whole lot of hope. We took any and every job we could get our hands on. But we learned that growing our business was less about expanding and more about pruning. Here are three good signs that it’s time to say goodbye to customers if you want to focus and grow your business.
We live in a money society where the message is clear: give me a lot of money and I’ll give you my attention. But I don’t want to be that person that hears the chime of a cash register and pastes on the appropriate smile. I want to be the person who appreciates all of my customers whether they spend a dollar or ten thousand dollars on my services. If you think it’s time for companies to show a little more appreciation for their customers large or small, then here are some thoughts to inspire to you think of gratitude in a different way.
Disasters bring out the best and worst in us. I witnessed some amazing displays of compassion and humanity and some abysmal behaviors that one can only cope with by completely ignoring them and putting our faith in our better selves. The same can be said for marketing. There’s the good, the bad and the just plain abysmal. It doesn’t take much to find examples of each in the days following a natural (or even man-made) disaster. One hardly has to look further than one’s Twitter stream or email inbox. Here are a few things I noticed about business, marketing and people in the week or so after the hurricane. I hope they will inspire the better self in you to be more like the heroes of these stories.
This Sunday we went to the movie theater to see “Looper” (which, if you haven’t seen it already, is worth two hours of your time). It started out well. We were precisely, to-the-minute, on time for the beginning of the movie. And then we waited… for 35 minutes… for something to happen… while people around us became increasingly impatient and expressed it in sometimes less-than-pleasant ways. What happened? We never knew. But you can bet we told management about it afterwards. Here’s our story of a service “fail” followed by a service “win” – for us and the theater – and what you can take away for your business.
Work is easy. I sit at my desk, jot down a few to-dos, get started and get things done. It’s the people who make life challenging. You know, those people we call customers? They want things. They ask questions. They forget stuff. They say things like, “I don’t like that color.” And, “I emailed you like, fifteen minutes ago, could you get back to me please????!!!!??” Yet as long as we’re in business we’ll always have customers to woo, coddle and make happy. The trick to succeeding in business is not to do things right (though it helps from time to time…) but to know how to deal with it when they go wrong.
More information. More access. More choice. More voice. More technology. More influence. More control. More social consciousness. Meet today’s empowered consumers. They’re not shy about flexing their muscles and raising their voices, in favor or in opposition, online or in person. So what can you do to satisfy this new consumer? Smart businesses take advantage of the opportunities and information available in today’s market. Find out more so you can satisfy and respond to customers today.
Last year, a Boy Scout named Donovan, who couldn’t have been more than 11 or 12, knocked on our door and said he was selling popcorn and other treats to raise money for the Boy Scouts and our troops. I expected to see a tattered catalogue, but my jaw dropped when he pulled out his iPad and started to go through his presentation.