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Whenever I ask business owners the question, ‘What is the purpose of a business?’ I often get the following response.
‘To make a profit!’
That answer pinpoints why so many businesses struggle to survive, let alone grow.
That answer is centered on the desires of the business owner, not on the needs and desires of their customers.
Imagine walking up to a potential customer and saying,
‘Hello. My purpose is to make a nice, big profit from you today!’
That would be what we call a ‘repelling’ action, not an ‘attracting’ action.
Here's a much more powerful and profitable definition of the purpose of a business:
The purpose of a business is to...
attract and serve the needs of as many customers as possible...at an acceptable profit.
Did you notice where the profit came in? Not at the beginning where most people put it, but at the end.
Profit is the ‘result’ of how well you serve your customers' needs. Focus on serving your customers better than your competition -- while maintaining good business sense -- and your sales and profit will automatically soar.
This ‘Love Your Customer,’ philosophy is not as common as you might think. There's a lot of talk about loving the customer, but not much action.
Okay, that's the philosophy, now for some tangible examples of what we mean.
1) SELL WHAT YOUR CUSTOMERS WANT TO BUY:
When you sell what your customers want to buy, an incredible thing happens. Your products and services sell like crazy!
If two of your products are selling like hot cakes, and three of them aren't, your customers are telling you something. Eliminate the losers and focus more time and energy on the winners.
If you have an effective system in place to let your prospects and customers know about your products and services and you offer them excellent value and good deals, and they still don't buy -- then there's a good chance you're not listening to your customers.
How can you determine what your customers want to buy?
Look around and see what they are buying from your competitors. I love watching shoppers at the mall, to see where the crowds are. What attracts them? Which stores are packed and which are empty? You can learn a great deal about what people want just by being observant.
You can ask your customers for some feedback on your products and services. But keep in mind that most people will tell you what they think you want to hear.
A better way to find out what your customers want is by testing and then counting the numbers. Maria and I run our business by the numbers.
We may post the titles of two or three different articles on our Web sites' home pages, and then compare the number of people who went to each article. Often there will be one clear winner. That tells us something about what our visitors want, and what they don't want.
We then give them more of what they want, and less of what they don't.
2) MAKE YOUR CUSTOMERS FEEL IMPORTANT:
As human beings we all want to feel important and be appreciated. It's no different when we're playing the role of customer.
How do you feel when you go to a restaurant, and the hostess ignores you as though you were invisible?
How do you feel when you ask for help in a department store and the clerk shrugs his shoulders and says, ‘It's not my department.’
How do you feel when you call a business to straighten out a problem and you get lost in Voice Mail mania?
There are companies that Maria and I have stopped doing business with because the attitude of the employees made us feel like we were an inconvenience to them.
You've probably experienced the same.
Are you familiar with the primary reasons why customers stop doing business with companies?
-- 3% move away
-- 5% develop other friendships
-- 9% go to the competition
-- 14% are dissatisfied with the product
-- 68% leave because of an attitude of indifference toward the customer by the owner, manager or an employee
One of my consulting clients a few years ago, was Ziebart Rust Proofing. One of the marketing systems we instituted for them was simply calling their customers a day or so after they had purchased one of their products or services and asking them if they were happy with the service.
Two things happened.
a) Their customers were impressed that we thought they were important enough to call, and . . .
b) Our client now had the opportunity to answer any questions and resolve any problems some of their customers might have had. This made it possible for them to turn an unhappy customer into a happy one.
Guess what happens when you treat your customers like this? They come back and buy again and again, and they tell their friends.
3) LISTEN TO YOUR CUSTOMERS CONCERNS:
It's easy to love a customer who never complains, who just tells you how wonderful you are, or who never says a word.
But, the opportunity for improvement comes from the customer who tells you what your weaknesses are.
Did you know that only 4% of unhappy customers actually take the time and effort to tell you about their unhappy experience?
That means for every 4 customers who told you of their concern, there were 96 others who said absolutely nothing. They just quietly went to the competition.
Now, I'm not saying that every irate customer has a valid complaint, there are some people who are never pleased, but our experience has shown that most people who tell you of a concern with your business, are worth listening to.
One of our fast food clients learned from a survey program we designed for them, that there were too many mistakes on the orders they placed at night. They were able to pinpoint the problem and solve it very quickly. Had the problem gone unnoticed, it could have cost them a fortune in lost customers.
Seek candid feedback from your customers with the goal of finding ways to improve your product or service. It's worth it to your bottom line.
4) BE GENEROUS TO YOUR CUSTOMERS:
After your customers do business with you, they should have the following question in the back of their minds:
How can they afford to give ‘so much’ for ‘so little?’
How can they give ‘so little’ for ‘so much?’
Give your customers something extra that they didn't expect and you will be amazed at the response.
People are so used to getting either exactly what they paid for, or less than what they expected.
When you provide them with excellent service and then surprise them with something extra, you'll stand out in their minds.
I'm not talking about giving away the kitchen sink, and selling your products at a loss. Everything you do must make sense to the health and growth of your business.
We showed an auto accessories client how a little thing like cleaning their customers tires with a special cleaning solution that left them looking brand new-- at no charge--could make a big impression.
It's the little things that people notice.
5) STAND BEHIND YOUR PRODUCTS OR SERVICES:
If you don't stand behind your products and services today, you're going to have a tough time growing your business.
Conversely, it's a lot easier to attract customers, when they know that you guarantee their satisfaction.
Unfortunately, the world is filled with poor quality products and less-than-honest people looking to make a quick and easy buck.
Is it any wonder that so many people are skeptical of the claims many businesses make?
People are seeking companies to do business with that they can trust. They don't want to have to take a risk when buying their products and services.
Stand behind your products--actually tell your customers up front that they can return the product if it doesn't suit their needs, and you'll find that your customers' resistance and fear of risk will melt away.
Why? Because it tells your prospective customers that you are confident of the quality of your products and services. It also says that you are genuinely concerned about their satisfaction.
Which company would you want to buy from? The one that tells you that you can get a refund if the product isn't for you, or the one that says, all sales final?
We wouldn't dream of offering our products on either of our Web sites without a very strong money-back guarantee.
We want our customers to know that there's no risk in doing business with us.
You should do the same.
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