If you buy into the simple concept that business is lifeless without customers, then it follows that “your” customers are “your” business. The complications beyond this thought are the distractions that derail visible activities, yet your efforts will be more efficient if you keep your mind on simplicity.
It’s simple — customers are business. The equation is more personal if stated: Your Customers = Your Business.
Since customers sustain business then taking action on customer input will create more activities that can enhance the customer’s perceived value of your efforts. The math is simple. More Customers = More Business. Absolute sales dollar volume and profits are the result of increased activity that compels customers to engage with your team.
For today, when I refer to business I am opening up the door to the thought that business and activity is effectively the same thing. The equation adapts to consider that visible activity will help your business grow and the equation evolves further; More Customer Perceived Activity = More Customer Engagement. Activity seen by those outside your walls drives profit to the bottom line. Action creates customers that want to engage with your group paving a path for customers to follow back again and again.
Business is a compilation of activities, products, services, employees and so on. The bottom line (Profit) is a measurement tool. Profit is created by the daily efforts within your internal and external visible reach. The bottom line is at the bottom for a reason. The entire list of top-down exercises is what makes up the variables that produce sustainable profit. Effort from the top fills the funnel of success as it bounces through the Pachinko Palace of challenges that faces your team.
Allowing your effort to produce bottom line profit is the natural goal. “Customers are business”. The simple thought is what provokes your group to engage with customers to create valuable customer retention.
Value is a business element that leaders control. Value is the intangible that companies must create to win long-term customers. Remember, if you agree that “Customers are Business” then it pays to take action on the needs of your core customers.
The customer is the ultimate decision maker when it comes to the interpretation and realization of the “value” created by your group. Value is determined by the outside world and good companies tailor products and services around feedback from core customers. Ideas supported by the expertise of what your group can create will result in sustainable activity. Value is created when external customers take notice and deem your efforts to be worthy of spending their hard-earned dollars with products and services produced by your team.
The equation expands—More Customers that “feel” value = more Business. Noticeable activity follows and good management takes care that the Pachinko Ball of value is managed to avoid unnecessary expenses that can erode potential profits. Managing expenses is a vital part of business yet, expense management is proportional to the activities that create perceived value.
Customer Service is a worthy activity that builds customer relationships. Even great companies, with fabulous products and services, eventually run into a customer with a problem. When a problem is managed well through outstanding customer service the customer gains additional respect for your company and the initial problem provides an opportunity.
Often, a well handled customer issue creates a customer experience that is positively remembered and the memory is better than if there were never a problem at all. Customers appreciate being taken care of. When issues are handled in a quick and courteous fashion the customer “remembers” the experience as a positive activity.
Customer service is an art. Customers have been trained by large corporations to dread calling in for service. Long hold times, untrained or rude staff, constant transfers, dropped calls and a simple lack of care have created customer fear long before they call your company. In fact, some customers never call to report issues as the hassle of poor customer service invades their lives all too often.
When customers avoid calling it is very detrimental to companies as they lose the ability to collect needed feedback. Customers can be left with a bad taste even though your company was more than willing to help out. When customer fear prevents your customers from calling the equation equals lost business. Taking care of all of your customers creates a groundswell of positive word of mouth communication.
In niche businesses stories get around so, your customers will repeat great customer service stories often.
When your company receives a customer service call it should be considered a welcomed opportunity. Good companies “want” to cure customer issues and build a long-lasting bond when given the chance. Always keep in mind that you know in advance that you can help a customer but, the customer is already callused by poor treatment from the past. Customers need to feel that you are going to take care of them in the first few seconds of the conversation.
The trick is to encourage the customer to talk out the issue in a casual and conversational way. Once you understand the problem you can choose the resolution process that meets the situation. In their effort to help, customer service people can ask too many questions upfront and these questions can make customers feel that the questions are designed to find a way out of taking care of the issue.
Tell valuable customers that you can help as soon as they have described the issue. Follow-up questions can be asked after customers have completely delivered their concerns. By communicating your desire to help first follow-up questions become welcomed. Starting with questions can make your customer feel “questioned” and recovering from this territory is nearly impossible.
Quality companies truly want to hear from their customers. Customer service is an engaging one-on-one “activity.”
Our customers can be a wealth of great ideas. Great ideas = Great Activities. Activities lead to new business and increased profits.
It is beneficial to listen to ideas that could add new products or services to your lineup. Use caution as it is easy to fall into the trap of only hearing what you want to hear. Your preconceived thoughts can be reinforced by customer requests. Create activities that meet a wide audience. Be sure that ideas for new products or services have real merit.
Taking action on new product ideas is an activity that is “noticed” by your customers. Activity that is seen by the external world manufactures sustainable growth. Targeting activities aimed at your core audience gains traction. Taking on every idea leads to wandering and waste.
Produce activities that will be seen by your customers.
After all, your customer is your business.
Jeff Butcher is the President at IntrendIn Growth Marketing in Seattle, WA. Previously Jeff held Executive Vice President, President and Vice President roles at JOES Racing Products, Innovex Golf and Bank of America.