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Business success is determined by your customer.

Business success is determined by your customer.

Do you really know what your customers think about you?

I’ve asked many business owners about their competitive advantage. They tell me they have great salespeople, installers, a beautiful showroom and super customer service. This is often in contrast to what the customers have written on line where their ratings are two out of five stars!

Why does this happen? Businesses think they’re in touch with their customers, but they really aren’t. If a customer says something unflattering about them, they usually dismiss it. “We could never please that customer, “is what they say.

If you’re not connecting with your customers, you’re doing a disservice to your business. If you don’t know what they like, how can they brag about you? Yes, you need them to brag about you. Consider that 65% of customers make decisions about where to shop and ultimately buy based on recommendations from their friends. Often the friends are social media friends they’ve never met!

Here  are four factors that you should consider:

Understand your marketplace. Are you located in the right place to attract your customer? Can you describe common traits about your customers? If you can’t, how can you attract more of them?

Know what products your customers like and buy more of them. If your customers are high end, why is your showroom stocked with so many cheap, uninteresting products? Being “all things for all people” just confuses both customers and salespeople.  Customers don’t have much time to shop so why bore them with things they don’t want?

Get the right business partners. Do you carry everyone’s products because the prices are good? Find  partners that are looking out for yor profitability  and your customers. They should also understand your marketplace and help you distinguish yourself from the competition.

Plan for the changing marketplace.  Businesses are heading down the tail end of the richest generation—the Baby Boomers. They fueled the marketplace with plenty of money and a desire for buying new things. As they age, their needs have changed. They are being replaced by a generation with different ideas about the world and seem to value “experiences” over certain things. (Electronics are one category they crave.)

You might not be able to be ahead of change, but you can certainly keep up.

Lisbeth Calandrino is a strategic thinker who has been helping businesses improve their bottom line for over 20 years. To schedule a conference or have her speak at an event, reach her at Lcalandrino@nycap.rr.com. She lives in Historic Hudson Park, Abany, New York with her cat Rainyday.

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