Small business BIG growth®
Words by Jaquie Scammell, BIGthink! Specialist
We are all part of a new species that is getting louder, more demanding and moving in all sorts of directions that are unpredictable and speedy. It would be sheer madness to think you can get by using the same old tactics in a completely new world.
We all belong to a movement of new century customers that have greater needs and opinions that we want heard throughout the whole human kingdom of products and services.
With one strike of a match our views and experiences can spread like wildfire doing collateral damage within a matter of seconds.
We will use facebook, twitter, SMS, blogs, ratings and reviews websites, as well as good old fashioned word of mouth in the park, at the gym, dinner parties and family gatherings, church, school, at work around the water fountain – heck if we can be heard we will share.
The latter part of the 20th century and the start of this new century have indeed been interesting in both pace and perspective. This is the time of Me, Mine and More.
We feel we not only deserve respect, we demand respect. In a world with more choice than ever before its important I feel good about spending my money with businesses that notice me, reward me and are grateful for my customer.
Some of us are well behaved and some of us are despicable.
There’s a power shift here. The customer is driving the future and its not asking for a navigator, its taking off and leading the way with a sat nav programmed to seek more value, more personalised service, more relevance and more surprise with any purchase of products and services. The only way to read the map of where the new century customer is heading is to take notice each step of the way.
Regardless of how the new century customer behaves one thing is certain; their voice will be heard and it will carry much weight in the success of any business.
Here are 4 things to consider:
1. The customer has more choice than ever before
2. The customer feels they not only deserve respect but demand respect
3. The customer is far more educated than ever before
4. The customer is seeking a connection with you and your brand
The rules are changing and they are changing fast. The organisations that will own their industries and grow their brands will be those who put people and their relationships with them first.
Businesses that obsess about their customers have more skin in the game. What we are talking about here is inspiring customer loyalty which translates to increasing profits beyond current performance levels of at least 6%.
4 needs of new century customer
Customers need businesses to (show value). There is a market for every price point if you can show value. They need you to (make it personal) giving individual attention which is unique and authentic. They want you to (be relevant) to what they are interested in and above all they want you to (create surprise), give them something unexpected and something to talk about setting up the ‘exchange effect’.
Rule 1. Show value
To define value for a new century customer is knowing full well that perception creates the reality. Start with a story and find a way to portray your value message beyond a product or service for a price. Your story needs to tap into the emotion of what’s in it for them. The customer needs to know how they will benefit or what your product or service will fix and the value message has to connect with them on some level
In a competitive world knowing how you compare to your competitors is something your customer will seek with or without your help. If your providing them this comparative information from the getgo its one less thing they need to do their homework on or consider when choosing to purchase from you.
Of course value is always increased when there is high demand. Generating a limited offer or limited time to your products and service may potentially create hype and interest that kicks familiarity to the kerb.
The final comment on value is to remember that when a customer is deciding to purchase from you it is most effective if you can talk to the ‘reptilian brain’ the part of our brain built into us that is instinctive and primal. This is the instinctive brain that can make decisions fairly quickly before the thinking brain has time to start sorting and selecting through the detail using words and numbers. If your value can highlight within seconds a need or solution for a customer your more than likely going to convert them to want to spend money with you.
Rule 2. Make it personal
The main business of business is to connect with – and add value to – people.
Business really is all about people.
Robin Sharma, one of the worlds leading gurus in business leadership refers to an enterprise as nothing more than a human venture that brings people together around some marvelous dream that inspires them to express the fullest of their talents and contribute rich value to those they serve. He goes on to suggest that with all the technology, disruption, competition and transition in business world today, a lot of us have forgotten that the whole game is about relationships – and human connections.
The stronger the bond is between you and your customers you work for – the stronger the results. Customers are looking for a bond and they want you to make it personal.
Imagine you are at a concert watching your favourite pop artist and they pick you out of the audience to come up on staged. They noticed something about you in the crowd that made your experience feel uniquely personal.
Noticing something unique about a customer, creating that 1:1 experience, generates what I refer to as a “spirit of friendship “ with your customer. Its like; If you knew the customer you served today would be your best man in 5 years time, how would you serve them?
Affecting an individual and creating a sense of belonging is the outcome of making it personal. Two simple yet often forgotten techniques that will assist in making it personal when interacting and conversing with multiple customers each day is to really listen, in fact even asking a customer “what they want” is a great way to get started on a personal level.
Secondly to be present is to be switched on in the workplace. Presence in the workplace requires disciplined practice of mindfulness and will be the different between 1:1 attention felt and someone ‘going through the motions’.
Rule 3. Be relevant
Relevance in the customer service industry is the intersection between saying what you want to say and saying what they are interested in. To know what your customer is interested in it first starts with mechanisms to listen to what your customer is saying. Without hearing their needs, understanding their world, and being up to date with the issues that need fixing from your product or service it will be like trying to sell ice to the eskimos!
When our products or brands are irrelevant to our customer its often because we have not got the awareness of seeing our products and services through their eyes. Understanding your customer ie; where they hang out, what they read, what music do they listen to are simple yet very effective ways to show them ‘ we get you, we understand you and we will listen to you’.
The new century customer is informed. Ideally if you could put a tracking device on your customers for a day what would you discover and how relevant are you to what they already know about your products, how engaging are you along the journey to inform the ones that are oblivious?
Rule 4. Create surprise
Of course none of us like bad surprises so I’m talking about creating nice surprises! Like knowing your customers birthday and acknowledging it on that day. Have you ever walked into a retail store and been offered an ice tea or coffee while you browse? Have you ever been given a little bite size piece of chocolate or a cookie with your take away coffee? Have you ever been offered an additional service or been given additional advice that really assist you or saves you money unexpectedly.
The warm fuzzy feeling that comes over you when someone goes out of your way to give you something above and beyond what you were willing to pay for in the first place leaves a lasting impression.
Creating surprise for some businesses may seem like it’s a lot of effort and yes it is. Its like gardening; you need to be constantly watering people and your connections with them.
Recently I sent out some gifts with a thank you card for some clients that had referred my business to a new client, this act of gratification and creation of surprise for my client receiving the gift prompted many of them to send me a thank you card for the thank you gift.
The law of reciprocity is one of the most powerful of all laws that run human relationships. When you genuinely help others, they will do anything to genuinely help you. It’s human nature at play and therefore the principle of creating surprise is additional attention given that creates “the exchange effect”.
When you are surprised as a customer you feel good and you are happy to return. This can be from a business promising something and giving more than promised, praising the customer unexpectedly or not promising them anything and giving them something pleasant. All in all it’s about creating a reality that is different to what they were expecting that exceeds their expectations.
A Hospitality & Retail Management Professional well known in the Australian and United Kingdom (UK) Catering / food & beverage industry. It was at the age of 30 when Jaquie was appointed her first General Manager role that her proven success in training management teams became evident. Today Jaquie leads her company with a natural blend of global operational expertise and proven training techniques tailored for all size organisations getting real results every time.