Entries in customer service (44)

Customers don’t care about your goals.

So - why are you in business?

To make money right?

Sure you need Sales to exceed your expenses.  Everyone gets that.

Most people would also say you need goals.  I accept that too.

But here’s the problem.

Your customers don’t care about your goals.  And they couldn’t care less about your profits.

Customer Tug-of-War

You’re in a tug-of-war with customers.  They want you to make “less” profit by dropping your price.  You want the opposite.  You both dig in.

Go on, admit it.  Customers can really suck sometimes.  Everyone seems to be taking a bite out of you.

How do you reconcile this problem?

Some businesses try to ‘satisfy’ their customers - every customer.

You shouldn't sell customers anything and everything.  You only sell what your company was created to do. It’s called  authenticity, and customers love it.

If you’re a high end fashion brand and your customers come in asking for cheaper alternatives, will you go down the line to ‘satisfy’ them?  Or will you be authentic and stick with what you do? 

The starting point is knowing what your company was created to do, it’s purpose.

Ask yourself one question: “Why does my business exist?"

It’s a tough question because you can only define purpose in terms of how the outside world views your business.

It’s about one thing

It becomes a question of value.

You need to know what your business brings to the world, it’s value to the world.  It's not about what you ‘offer' the world.

When you think about the offer, you are thinking about yourself.

This is the tough part. You need to see value from the customer’s perspective, but start from what you want to do in the world.  

Poor Yahoo

Let’s look at Google and Yahoo as an example.

Yahoo started life as a search engine, even before Google.  And yet Google’s share price is now $597.78 and Yahoo at $39.59 at Sept 7, 2014.  Google is 15 times more valuable.

Let’s look at how they defined themselves 10 years ago.

Google in 2004 ~ We maintain the world’s largest online index of web sites and other content, and we make this information freely available to anyone with an Internet connection.

Yahoo in 2004 ~ is a leading provider of comprehensive Internet products and services to consumers and businesses through our worldwide network of online properties.

Google was focused on what it was; a search engine.  It maintains that focus.  

Yahoo wanted to be “leading” but didn’t lead.  They focused on what they offered.  Yahoo offered products and services. 

Big deal, so does everyone.  

Yahoo was looking for ways to make money and lost sight of why it was there in the first place.

Source: NASDAQ

You don’t have to be a financial whiz to know Google is doing better.

Your customers are selfish

Back to your customers.  

They only care about what you can do for them, not your goals.

They don’t even care about your Purpose.  They only care about their value.

You don’t define Purpose for customers.  Purpose is yours.  It’s your single point of clarity.  Home base.

Part of the problem is that all the fancy management words are confusing and seem too blend together.

Now, you might be thinking that purpose, mission, vision, goals, strategy and tactics are different words saying the same thing. 

They're not the same.  Purpose is often forgotten because it’s mixed up with Mission, Vision and Goals. You need to be clear on the difference.



VISION:  Outcome

GOALS: Specific targets

STRATEGY: Your choices

TACTICS: To-do list

And it all starts with Purpose. 

Next up, we’ll look at the 6 things that define a valid Purpose.

But for now.  Start thinking about your Purpose.

End note

Yahoo in 2014 changed dramatically ~ is a global technology company focused on making the world’s daily habits inspiring and entertaining. 

Google in 2014 just tightened some wording ~ Our mission is to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful

Oprah can't afford a handbag?

So Oprah goes to a fancy Swiss Luxury shop Trois Pommes, asking to look at a "Jennifer" purse, designed by Tom Ford. Apparently that's fancy.  Well the $40,000 price tag would indicate it is.

Oprah's only problem was that she wasn't recognised, and the staff member said "You can't afford it".

Oprah asked again, and got the same response. So She didn't buy and let the whole world know.

Now Oprah is one thing, but would this happen to ordinary people like me or you?

The same thing happened to me once in Hawaii.  My father in-law gave me the money to buy a Rolex watch for him on my honeymoon.  I was 24 years old, came off the beach, and was wearing a singlet and sand on my feet.

Getting the store's attention and respect was tough.

An 'experienced' sales person would have 'known' not to waste their time with me and cut their losses.  But I ended up buying a watch elsewhere.

This happens often, not just to Oprah, but to our own customers.

We judge them before they have bought anything.

In my Mystery Shopping business I see it all the time. 

  • Car dealers who "size up" their customers as soon as they walk in
  • Car dealers who"assume" the man is the buyer
  • Retailers everywhere who don't want to be rude and suggest an upsell.
  • Banks which assume all customers want to walk through all the financial details of a loan
  • Retailers who think the customer will only buy the cheapest, and that service is secondary.

The list goes on.

Sometimes Sales people have to unlearn what they "know", get out of their own heads, and other parts of their bodies, and just go with what they are dealt.

(See the full Oprah article as reported here)



Why Achievement Certificates Matter

Nowadays we look sarcastically at Customer Service and other Staff awards, and many companies have stopped the practice altogether.

A 2011 research study* looked at how people view themselves when given a certificate.  Participants in the study were asked to complete a math quiz.  In this quiz, half the group were given the chance to cheat where the answer key was at the bottom of the page.

They found that those with the opportunity to "check their answers" scored a few points higher than the control group.

Now the interesting part.

Those in the group allowed to cheat were given a certificate to signify their (false) sense of achievement.  The certificate was printed and signed on nice heavy paper and looked very official.  Those who were not given the opportunity to cheat (and scored lower) were not given a certificate.

The researchers then asked each group to predict their score on the second test. 

Those with the certificate (cheaters) predicted they would score higher than the non-cheating group.

It seems that the reminder of having a job well done gives us a feeling of confidence and (perhaps) deluded sense of ability.

On a positive not, it's not a far stretch to say that certificates for good performers (and perhaps average performers) can increase their confidence and ability to perform.

For example: Customer Service Star, Sales Star, Best Store, Heroic Action Certificate etc.

Don't underestimate the importance of certificates and achievement markers.


* Zoe Chance, Michael I Norton, Francesca Gino, and Dan Ariely, "A Temporal View of the Costs and Benefits of Self-Deception," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (2011)

I'm a buyer - Stop shuffling and sell me something.

I'm a painful customer.  As the owner of a Mystery Shopping company, I have a good idea of what retailers are looking for in staff.

So imagine my horror when I saw 5 staff in a camping store, all busy NOT helping customers.  I was shopping for a foldout camping bed.  My wife had already done the internet research but we had to test the comfort.

There was a staff member in the area we were approaching. As soon as he we entered, he left.  I watched him and he very busily moved around the store stocking and tidying shelves.  Another staff member was doing the same, and three were at the (same) cash register talking and putting stickers on stock.

In the meantime, the 15 customers in store were left unattended.

I may have bought that bed with some help, but the lack of attention gave them no chance.  Everyone was busy but the sale was lost.  I am a buyer looking for a seller.

I see this in my Mystery Shopping company all the time.  It's just more real when you see it for yourself.  And now the sad news.  They are a company who told me the don't need Mystery Shopping.  Really?

This behaviour can be fixed.  But first, quantify the problem.

Signed ***Frustrated***

Make a boring product interesting

Is there anything more boring than a washing machine?

They are all the same, the pricing is similar, and the stores seem to be closely clustered together.

B o r i n g

So now it's time to buy one. Here's what will likely happen when you walk in a store.

You might get approached by someone who will walk you through the features, and then you'll ask the best price.

They'll reduce the price by a couple bucks and say if you get a better offer elsewhere to come back.  A pleasant goodbye and your off to the next interaction which is exactly the same.

Wrong, wrong, wrong.

As soon as a you say you will price match, you admit you have not given your best price.  As soon as you say goodbye, chances are, your sale waves goodbye too.

Oh, and then there's the internet. We'll deal with that last.

Here are three things you can do.

1) Sell the benefits before the features - it will esptablish you as the expert and build rapport.

2) Ask the customer what's stopping them buying right now.  

Address that head on. The most probable answer is "Oh we're just shopping around" which is code for "I'm looking for the best price"

So help the customer buy.  Ask them if they are simply looking for the best price.  .The last similar price they see they will buy.  That's the danger.  There is no walking back to your store unless you are exceptional.

3) Tackle price head on.  

Go to the web and look up the same product online for them.  If you're prices are reasonable you will save the customer walking around, you win.  

You will also be comparing your price to an undiscounted price so there is more chance of winning the sale.  Offer a coffee or the kids a sweet and sit down for 5 minutes.

Just three steps and you become the helpful person who made it easy.  The customer probably won't walk away for a few bucks.  

If that doesn't work then never never never let the customer leave without getting their details.

Some customers just want to research online at home, maybe read some reviews.  If you can't do it in store, then they'll do it at home.  So call the customer and see if they found out anyting new.  If they have any further questions.  

Why do this?  Because no one else will.  You win!