This week I received the latest issue of The Costco Connection magazine. In their column, “Lifestyles for The Millennium”, Paul and Sarah Edwards discuss how we can be sales smart but customer foolish. Their point is that we often get the sale, but lose the customer for the future. In addition, we may lose other possible customers also. (Check out their website at www.ElmStreetEconomy.com.)
I have often discussed the customer buying experience. Ask yourself if the customer actually enjoyed buying from you. Did you listen to their needs and offer solutions to those needs? Did you relate how your product or service could provide benefits to your prospect instead of dwelling on the features that excite you? Did you ask them what they thought of the buying experience? Would they refer others to you?
Did you respond to their concerns or complaints, immediately and without excuses? Did you fix any problems in the product or service, the delivery, the installation, or afterwards? Did you take action to make up their inconvenience to them? Did you thank them for their business or their referrals? Do you care about your customers and actually show them? Will they refer others to you after your errors?
No one in business expects to be perfect all of the time. I often say that I do business with humans who will make mistakes from time to time. I am more inclined to refer business not only to the person who is perfect in their buying process, but also to the business who takes the correct steps when a problem occurs.
After a problem, how does your provider deal with the situation? Do they take responsibility for problems without making excuses or blaming others; do they fix the problem immediately, or do they stall the customer? Do they fix the situation, preventing it from reoccurring? (This fix is a great marketing opportunity, by the way.) Does the provider contact the customer after the fix to see if the customer is satisfied?
It does not matter how good your product or service is, or how feature laden they are. If the customer cannot reap the benefits of buying from you, they will not be satisfied with the buying experience. They will be speaking with others about that experience and relaying their feelings which may not be beneficial for your future sales. You want them speaking to you first and allowing you to correct their experience for the better.
If you are not talking with your customers, as well as your prospects, someone else is. If you have problems in the customer buying experience, they will become public knowledge quickly and will damage your business, fairly or not. You must take the initiative and discover if there are problems and, if they exist, deal with them. What you do must be a priority and then followed by marketing your actions to the public.
You must make the buying experience, before, during, and after the sale, a pleasure for the customer. Prospects and customers will exchange information; make sure they are speaking about you and your business in a favorable manner. You cannot stop the flow of information; make this flow bring business to you and not move it to the competition.
You can leave your comments here, or your emails at Jim@SOC4Now.com, or your calls at 360-314-8691. Do your customers enjoy the buying experience with you? How does your marketing deal with mistakes? Exchange experiences with each other, because exchanging information results in better performance for all of us.