What makes a potential customer choose you?
Thursday, June 19, 2008/
Your customer experience can be loaded with clues as to whether your business will survive or thrive. NAOMI SIMSON
By Naomi Simson
Remember the “gold fish principle”, which are entities that have no territorial memory – a business focused solely on current transactions has no customer memory, but with no memory of a customer’s past and no regard for the future, its decisions are unbalanced.
The question therefore becomes “why does a customer choose you instead of one of your competitors?”
- Strength of customer relationships.
A customer creates the most value for you when you create the most value for him. This requires an organisation to earn the trust of the customer. The components of trust include; credibility, reliability, and intimacy (competence).
“Treat the customer the way you would want to be treated if you were the customer.” Peppers and Rogers.
Customer advocacy is the best indicator of whether companies are able to achieve cross-sell success to a customer base.
What does it mean to NOT be self oriented – it means you are customer oriented, that you take the customer’s point of view. The customer is not interested in your store or product, they are simply interested in having his needs met. So speak the customer’s language.
How to destroy trust through incompetence:
- Make the customer tell you personal details and preferences over and over again.
- Treat all customers exactly the same.
- When a customer calls and is asked for an account number, when he speaks to a rep he is asked for the account number again.
- Offer to sell the customer a product he already bought from you.
- Encourage customers to use the web by hiding your phone number.
- Give customer contact people no authority to deviate from strict financial policies.
Simply, you cannot automate great customer service!
“Through 2010, empowering employees will be the quickest route to improving the customer experience.” Ed Thompson, Gartner.
What customers say they want from companies:
- 76% Improve the product.
- 71% Empower employees.
- 41% Share customer data across departments.
- 35% Brand strength.
- 34% 360 customer data base.
- 32% Online self service.
- 11% Cross selling.
Source: Richard Lee and David Mangen survey “Customers say what companies don’t want to hear”.
Employees must be empowered to make decisions – to surprise and delight customers. That is people making non-routine decisions. Unanticipated situations, creative issues, matters requiring judgement or enthusiasm… how would you write that requires employees to “delight” customers?
This all requires a high level of employee engagement to achieve customer delight. For employees to use their judgement, creativity, empathy and intuition they must be empowered to act.
An employee must trust their employer – alarmingly 60% of American employees don’t trust their bosses to communicate with them honestly and only 36% of employees believe their leaders “act with honesty and integrity”. An incredible 76% of employees have seen unethical or illegal conduct on the job in the last 12 months – according to Steven Covey in The Speed of Trust.
To earn your customers’ trust, first you have to earn your employees’ trust.
Hence corporate culture is more important than ever. A culture based on trust ensures that your people will create value with their decisions.
The Built to Last companies in Jim Collins’s book all had a strong culture.
“Until I came to IBM, I probably would have told you that culture was just one among several important elements in any organisation’s make-up, and success – along with vision, strategy, marketing, financials, and the like – I came to see, in my time at IBM, that culture isn’t just one aspect of the game; it is the game.” Lou Gerstner, IBM.
According to the Hays Group, there are four requirements for engagement:
- Confidence in the organisation’s leaders.
- Collaboration and collegiality (positivity).
- Development opportunities.
- Clear and promising sense of purpose.
A productive culture requires a purpose. (Life’s purpose is not to breath, just as a businesses purpose is not about increasing shareholder value – it is more about why you are in business, which is not about making money.)
Naomi Simson is the founder and CEO (Chief Experiences Officer) of RedBalloon Days, Naomi is passionate about pleasure! Backed by enthusiasm, energy and drive and recently named one of Australia’s best bosses (Australia’s Marketing Employer of Choice), the Entrepreneurs Organisation (Sydney Chapter) President 2007 – 2008 and mother of two, Naomi also inspires others as a regular speaker, writes a blog and has recently completed her first book . To read more Naomi Simson blogs, click here .