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Would a “Makeover” Improve Your Customer Service?

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Quaker Oats man looks younger

Quaker Oats man loses double chin

I heard that Larry, the Quaker Oats guy, just got a makeover.

The Quaker Oats PepsiCo brand is 134 years old. and Larry is looking a little tired. Since his makeover his double chin is gone and his hair is a little shorter. If you look closely, he looks like he lost about 5 pounds. Just the loss of his chin makes him appear younger. With some minor changes it changes the feeling of the brand.

The article said they left the crow’s feet around his eyes because removing them would make him too too young!

Can you really look too young?

The Quaker Oats company was founded in 1901 so it was time for a makeover.  Larry’s Quaker cousin, Aunt Jemima, traded in her  bandanna for a new hairdo several years ago so she was less of a “mammie.”

She also  lost 100 pounds. It’s probably time for another  new hairdo.

The Jolly Green Giant has become nicer over the years, more friendly but always in good shape. But maybe his language needs to be brought up to-date and he should stop yelling “ho.”

These are subtle changes but nevertheless make a difference. They make a difference to the brand and the customers.

Of course it started me thinking: Why did Larry need to lose five pounds?

One reason is that Quaker Oats represents itself  as a healthy choice cereal, one  which promotes energy and  the ability to lower cholesterol, and Larry doesn’t look that good. It goes together, the cereal is good and Larry looks good.

Would the customer think that Larry looks bad because he doesn’t eat Quaker Oats? Or if  I eat Quaker Oats would I look like Larry?  Larry represents the Quaker Oats brand and his looks need to  be consistent with his brand of “good  health.”

How about your brand? Who is your brand connecting to and who is your customer? How are you representing your brand? Are you and the brand looking tired and old?

What  are you doing to update you and your brand?

Let’s face it; the baby boomers are working hard at staying young and living a healthy lifestyle. One of the payoffs should be looking better but it’s obvious what you eat and drink can’t change everything.  So what does this mean to your business?

How you and your employees look certainly makes an impression on your customers. How can you be in the design business still wearing a haircut and clothes from the 70’s? (Unless your store has a 70’s motif.)

What about your showroom? When did it have its last makeover?

How can you be in any  business with a dirty showroom , old floors and chipped paint on the walls?

It’s important that you look well rested, up-to-date and have a great attitude. Looking good will make you feel better and probably improve your attitude. As people age they often begin to slouch which makes them appear even older. My doctor asked me the other day why I didn’t stand up straight  and I realized it was from carrying a heavy computer and projector through the airport for the last 20 years. Many of my trainer friends have the “computer bag” slouch. Now that I’m focusing on standing tall, I feel much better about myself and I notice I look better. This one was an easy fix.

By the way, if you’re wearing running shoes, they may be interferring with your posture.

In case you haven’t noticed, despite standing straighter, I haven’t gotten any taller.

As our customers get younger,  how will we connect if we look and feel old and tired? I noticed at Coverings that many of the social media wizards were over 60 and although they were older, their energy and stature made them appear young and vibrant.  My dad used to always say hanging around with old people will only make you older and if you want to stay young,  you need younger friends.

Attitude has a lot to do with how we look and feel about ourselves.

Teeth don’t need to look white washed but yellow teeth are a sure sign of aging; some over-the-counter teeth whitening will make them look better and you more youthful.

A manicure isn’t just for women and exercise is good for everyone.  The site,  “Cheap and Easy Ways to Look Richer, Younger and Thinner”  has some great ideas.

Good customer service means connecting with your customers. For those of you looking for younger customers, your appearance and  attitude can make or break your sale. Are you up to date in your conversation or  do you continually refer to “I remember when” or “the good old days?” The previous link is to an interesting article on customer service out of UK.

I had a young friend of mine do some mystery shopping for me. He said he liked the salesperson who was about his age until he saw the guy’s tattoo.  My friend has tattoos but he found the salesman’s tattoo distracting. He said he feels the same way about piercings and doesn’t wear his earrings to work. Remember when guys didn’t wear earrings?

Take Tony’s advice–get to know some young people and ask what they consider customer service. Maybe we don’t need to whiten our teeth.

Lisbeth Calandrino helps businesses build profitable and long-term relationships with their customers. For speaking and training, she can be reached at redhotcustomerservice @nycap.rr.com

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By |2017-03-03T12:07:06+00:00May 1st, 2012|Blog, Customer Service|0 Comments

Are You Making or Losing Customers?

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Image of a sign that says Help New Customers wantedWithout customers you are out of business, period; if you don’t market to your customers you will lose them. It all makes sense to me, or do I have it wrong?

I went to a women’s group yesterday, sort of a lunch and learn. I spoke with two new business owners who told me they didn’t have a marketing budget. When I asked why they remarked as soon as I get some business I will have money to market. Huh?

I understand that things are tough but things will doubtfully get better for you if you don’t market. Look at it this way. You get a call from a potential customer who asks to see your press kit or your brochures or your testimonials; yes they’re all part of your marketing tools. Or they ask for your business cards and yours aren’t the greatest or consistent with your brochures. Will the customer want you to work for you? I don’t really know but marketing needs to be included in your plan if your business is going to get off the ground.

Despite definitions about what it is, no business can succeed without it. It doesn’t matter where you start, how you do it, you will need relationships to succeed. Relationships with potential customers who want to know you’re professional. You can build them on or off line; it depends on you, whichever works.

Here are some not so simple tips for your marketing that will help you get started.

What do you do that makes you different? Often referred to as your competitive  advantage; according to Jack Welch, if you don’t have one you can’t compete.

This is a good place to start without it you will end up lumped in the field of sameness. Maybe you provide the same services as others; maybe you do it in a different way. That’s what makes you different. So if you’re starting with the 90 second elevator speech starts with the value and then gives your service a name and a category.  Instead of saying you’re a printer, start with the exciting things you’ve made in the past or can make and then say you’re a printer.  Also make whatever you do easy to understand.

You can’t do it all no matter what you think.

Just as customers are trying to decide if you’re the right vendor, you should decide if they’re the right customers. When people start their businesses they think that anyone who walks through the door is their customer. This is the hit or miss, throw some against the wall theory eventually you will get tired of the unprofitable customers. Why not decide upfront who’s profitable and go for them. It will save you time and money.

Select your customers carefully, look for partnerships. Customers are flattered by this approach. Create a checklist of attributes for your partners.

Word of mouth never goes away

Have you customer write why they bought from you on the back of their business card. A simple testimonial goes a long way. Call one customer a day just to keep in touch. Consider at the end of the year that’s 365 customers who have had a personal experience with you. Don’t call for anything other than to see how they are and to update your files. You “one customer” might have a referral for you. Don’t forget to ask for a testimonial while you’re service is still hot.

Use online marketing

I think that businesses are intimidated because they can’t spend money to create the best web site, the best blog, Facebook or Twitter accounts. Nonsense, this is the way you keep yourself from being successful. Start getting involved online; instead of talking to people who haven’t gotten business and think it’s a waste of time talk to those who are doing business. You can be sure your competitors will not talk to you about how much business they’re doing on line. And on line is mostly free. Start a discussion on line or post a question.

I know I’m not the best writer but I believe I have a message that is useful so I plug away at it. For years I was told I couldn’t write and so I didn’t had it edited over and over again. If you’ve got a good message, people will listen.

Quit selling and help people buy

When you truly put your customer’s interests above your own you become a team member, a consultant, a partner for your client.  Help them determine what they really need instead of trying to sell them anything. This is true customer service. Help your customer find other partners that will help them grow; in the process you will find new partners.

Shift the risk to yourself and you will profit

Give the best guarantees possible; the absolute best. Give money back warranties whenever possible.

Be as personal as possible

This is the age of transparency and being personal. Send a handwritten note, a link to your page, or give a free eBook. Why not?

Create free publicity.

Ask people to review your book and post their comments; review an article you’ve written or a fund raiser you’ve hosted! Post surveys of way your customers think about your service or a special award you’ve received. Did you just run a race for charity? You don’t have to win to post you were there supporting the cause. Write articles for magazines in your industry or in your home town. Get the word out.

Integrate your marketing message.

Even if you’re small and can’t afford much, have all your literature create the same message

Whether you are high tech or need to use the shoe leather approach to your marketing, determine the best methods for you to create prospects and build relationships on a regular basis. The main secret of successful marketing to get started , keep  doing something on a regular basis and get yourself in front of the decision makers.

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By |2017-03-03T12:07:12+00:00September 19th, 2010|Blog, Networking|3 Comments