I love “Old Cowboy Wisdom,” even though I’m not a cowboy. How many times have you done something so stupid you wondered why you were doing it?
These day’s businesses still think they are in control of what the consumers think and do. It’s just not so.
Consumers are in control and more empowered than ever. They are creating their own experiences wherever they go and are demanding something unique no matter what the venue. They expect every retailer, not just major ones, to create an emotional experience for them every time they show up. Consumers want to be cool according to their standards of “cool.”
Last night, I went to our new Whole Foods Supermarket. It’s only been open for a month, and it’s still nicknamed “Whole Paycheck” by some of the locals. To compete as a supermarket you really have to work hard. Not only do you have to have great food and prices, but you have to come up with things no one has thought of. (I think I mentioned that Hannaford Brothers Supermarket had a gym within the store.) I wasn’t very impressed except for the produce department. The vegetables were arranged as if they were smiling from the shelves. That alone made them look like they should be more expensive. As I was checking out the clerk noticed there was no price on my candy bar. I explained I would go back and get one with the price on it. She said it wasn’t necessary I could have it for free! I told her I didn’t want it for free, but she insisted. Just because they made a mistake (or had they?) it should be free? To me this wasn’t terribly smart.
- Think you’re not allowed to make mistakes; if you give it away to the customer, you must have high enough margins to let it go by. Smart customers get that. If you’re dumb, how long will you stay in business? This isn’t Whole Foods.
- Finish your sales presentation telling the customer “To have a nice day.” Really, this is another overused expression.
- Think that you shouldn’t have amazing events that make customers want to come back “again and again.” I was surprised to see they had Rip Esselstyn author of “Engine 2 Diet” talking about how to eat healthy by eating green and was signing books. There wasn’t a seat in the house, and he must have sold 100 books at $27.00 a book. He was also hawking his two-day seminars. Don’t think there’re many vegetarians, think again.
- Greet each customer the same way with some canned presentation. You and I both know that customers are very distinct and want to be treated like they’re special. Spend time talking about different ways to greet your customers. Treat everyone as if you’re dying to get to know them.
- Never follow-up with your customers. If you believe once they’re gone, they’re gone, and then you’ll be left with few customers. The customer in front of you night be linked to your next customer.
- Don’t update your technology. Do you think that paying for high-speed internet is something you don’t need? Not having it is just frustrating.
- Don’t think you need to train your new staff? If you’re still pairing them with your old geezers, you’re ruining your business. Infuse new staff with wonderful ideas and a glowing picture of where your company is going.
- Are you throwing away your customer surveys? These should be taken seriously, and random customer should be called for more information. My dentist receptionist made me wait 45 minutes to pay my bill. Instead of paying the bill I left them a note that said my time was as important as theirs. They called me at least four times before I spoke with them.
- Let all your calls go into your voice mail. I called the continuing education division of the schools today to find out about a particular class. I called at nine this morning and never got any kind of return message. I actually called two departments. Isn’t this how they make money? Doesn’t anyone answer their phone?
There’s no such thing as business as usual; only business the way the customer wants it.
Lisbeth has been a coach and business consultant for over 20 years. To schedule a call with her or have her speak with your staff, reach her at Lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com. http://blog.timesunion.com/success/author/lisbethcalandrino/.