Monday, November 29, 2010

Use the 5 Bs In 2011 - Be What Your Customers Want

Customers are impatient, picky, demanding and savvy. They are also THE reason a business exists – to serve and sell the customer. To make 2011 a profitable year, here are the 5 Bs of what customers want –

1. Be Fast. Customers are impatient and want things faster than ever before. Think about your customer experience. Look at email response time, on hold time, IVR systems, live chat capabilities. Make it an experience that works for the savvy customer.
2. Be Good. Have team members who can answer customer’s questions. Make certain they have more answers than the customer has questions. Empowered employees make for happier loyal customers. Get rid of scripts.
3. Be Complete. Do what you say you will do. Do it right the first time, Do it when you say you will do it. It is that simple. Customers want to talk to one person and tell their story one time.
4. Be Responsive. This is especially important as customers interact with companies more via their computer. Your social media presence is worthless if you are not responsive. Emails should be answered at least within 4 hours. Whether face to face or on the phone, connect and care. That is the essence of customer service.
5. Be Personable. Give customers a reason to do business with you. Make the experience memorable. Show you know them and value their business.

You may have a great product but it can not stand alone in this crowded, competitive marketplace. In this coming year, stand out by being what your customers want.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Customer Loyalty Can Be Surprising

Many companies use a customer loyalty scheme whether it be miles, points or other free stuff. All are based on dollars spent and frequency of usage.

None of that is big news.

I am a member of plenty of these programs. And many of us will admit,
some of those companies we really do not like yet the attraction of the
benefits keep us using the product or service. But I have to tell you about
one that has my attention.

This summer Panera Bread Company introduced
Enrollment requires a visit to the website to enter the needed information.
The card is presented to you at the store. Here is what I like about their
approach – you can go to an in-store terminal and register immediately.
Once registered you are surprised with a free item (mine was a bagel). No
accumulation of spending, just an immediate reward. In a very short time, I
had a number of surprises offered - $2 off of an entrée, free drinks,
99 cents for a higher priced pastry. I never know what “surprise” will be
offered. I like that for a change. Panera is not in a business where I am
working to accumulate points for a trip so no tracking is really necessary.

Surprise works. also has an expiration on the offers. So I am motivated to
get back in to redeem and of course spend even more money while there.
The offers print on the receipt along with the expiration date and can be
found when logging into the account online.

Just this morning, I opened my email to find a “special surprise” in honor
of my birthday this month. Their goal is to surprise in unexpected ways –
it is working for this now loyal customer.
Start thinking about what you can do to surprise your customer. Simple
stuff works especially when the customer does not expect it.